East Bay Regional Park District to discuss BNSF plans to run diesels in Miller Knox

OAKLAND - The East Bay Regional Park District board Tuesday is expected to discuss plans announced by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to run diesel trains along the shoreline in Miller Knox Park.

The discussion is expected to be part of the board's adoption of a new land use plan for Miller Knox.

The railroad corporation's plans for trains in the park have already received a unanimous thumbs down from the Point Richmond

Neighborhood Council at its Wednesday, Feb. 27 meeting. LINK: PRNC votes to oppose.
KCBS radio ran a report on train proposal Saturday March 9: LINK to KCBS story.

Railcars being pulled into the tunnel to Miller Knox Park

The EBRPD's Tuesday meeting is open to the public and begins at 1 p.m. at the district's headquarters, 2950 Peralta Oaks Court in Oakland.

"It would be good for residents to show up to support the (land use) plan and oppose BNSF,"  Eric Zell of Point Richmond said. Zell is assisting the district in efforts to keep BNSF from running diesels through the park.

BNSF is expected to show up to oppose the board's adoption of the new land use plan.

The district's plan for improving the 295-acre park includes a major sprucing up of the lagoon, construction of more parking and picnic facilities and adding a path from Ferry Point to the lagoon trail.

But BNSF says the railroad needs to use the shore for a rail line in an area where company  representatives say they hold rights to do so.

"BNSF has not recently operated trains within the easement area, but it has notified the Park District of its expanding business at Richmond Terminals," attorney L. John Nelson said in a letter to the EBRPD. He said that expansion is "necessitating the reactivation of its rail use within the easement in the near future."

"Near future" has not been defined specifically by BNSF and is likely to be part of questions the board will bring up.

This Sunday (March 17) traffic was backed up on West Richmond Avenue for 20 minutes when BNSF used the tracks that run through the tunnel to the park.

Board members are also expected to ask questions about details of how many trains, railcars and hours of operation BNSF is considering.

Cars were backed up for 20 minutes Sunday, March 17 on West Richmond

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