Commentary: Quick Trestle - Fast Cleanup?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 30, 2007

I’m delighted trains are rolling again. Union Pacific’s rail corridor through Sacramento is one of the most important on the West coast, connecting the busy Port of Oakland with the rest of the United States. Its loss impacted commerce nationwide. Getting it back into operation quickly was essential. Now I want to know, will UP move as swiftly on cleanup?

Tons of debris laced with cancer-causing chemicals must be disposed of. Creek beds and soils are contaminated. Ground water may be tainted. And the trestle crosses a heavily used portion of the American River Parkway. While trains are rolling overhead, the Parkway beneath is still off limits to hikers and bicyclists.

Over the years, UP has been notoriously uncooperative when its economic interest did not coincide with the public interest. Sacramento has waited decades for a cleanup of the downtown and Curtis Park rail yards. We should not have to wait years or even weeks for the railroad to clean up the contaminated parkway.

State and local officials who fast-tracked permits to allow the railroad to rebuild its trestle so fast, must now use their regulatory clout to get the railroad to clean up the mess and reopen the Parkway as quickly as possible.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.