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East Bay Leaders Consider Opposing Plan To Reactivate Long-Dormant Rail Line In Richmond

RICHMOND (CBS SF) - The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will on Tuesday discuss formally opposing plans by BNSF Railway to reactivate a long-dormant rail line through the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline Park in Richmond.

The rail line extends from the BNSF's main Richmond rail yards through the Point Richmond business district and through a tunnel, emerging near the Keller Beach Park. The old right-of-way then hugs the shoreline for about a mile to the old Ferry Point, where rail cars were once loaded onto ferry boats.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt did not hesitate to express his confusion and frustration over the dispute now running along the edge of his city. The old train line has not been used in years, and this space is pretty much considered a de facto part of the Bay Trail.

"I have no interest in seeing it reactivated, and nor does anyone else," said Butt.

The railroad company has indicated expanding business at Richmond Terminal, necessitating the reactivation of its rail line along the shoreline.

"Yeah, people walk on it like all day. Pretty much every day," said Elizabeth, who was out jogging along the trail Monday afternoon

BNSF officials have told the East Bay Regional Park District that the tracks could be relocated away from the shoreline, allowing for the construction of a trail in the current rail line location. But the park district board in March voted to move forward with a Miller/Knox land use plan that doesn't include a rail line in the park.

KPIX 5 reached out to BNSF Railway to try to understand more about what their intentions are, but has not yet received a response. The City of Richmond is officially going on record in opposition to the Railway's plan.

"The East Bay Regional Park District says they both right away several years ago and the only reservation the railroad took Wes to serve any new industry that happens to be at the end of it," explained Mayor Butt.

"But there's nothing at the end of it, it's all parkland now, owned by the city of Richmond. So some of this may play out in court."

A supervisors' staff report says that Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline Park, including Ferry Point, serves thousands of Richmond and West Contra Costa County residents, most of whom are Latino and African American families.

The supervisors' meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the board chamber (Room 107) in the Contra Costa County Administration Building, 651 Pine St., Martinez.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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