February 2005

Bay Bridge Follies
Letters to the Editor
New Ship Sails to Sausalito–Opportunities for All!
Mare Island Welcome Center is Now Open in Historic Mansion
Dispatch from the Dogpatch… A SeAm Between
In Richmond Today
Crab Fest Fever
Afterguard’s Broiled
Salmon Afloat
Bay Crossings Gardens
“Food from the Heart” at the Ferry Building Marketplace
Giant Storms in LA Affect Bay Area
WTA Pages…Ferry Rewards
Minds Meet at Underwater Forum on California’s Ocean Future
Bay Ghost Phenomenon
Bay Crossings Calendar
New Horizons at Webster Street’s Arts & Crafts Campus
Love, Lust, and Heartbreak

Giant Storms in LA Affect Bay Area
Map courtesy of Union Pacific Railroad

Guy Span

Nearly two weeks of rain in the Los Angeles basin preceded the killer storm of January 12th that caused severe flooding, high tides, and mudslides. The already service-clogged Union Pacific Railroad lost one third of its capacity as the storm washed away roadbeds, bridges, and dumped mud and debris over the tracks. Severed was the Coast Line between LA and Emeryville, the San Joaquin Route, and the mainline to Las Vegas.

Santa Barbara Mudslide Photo UPRR

The UP threw 150 men, 40 pieces of heavy equipment, and dozens of trucks at the problems in LA. In Nevada, the narrow Caliente Canyon soaked up 200 men working around the clock with 60 machines and seven work trains hauling rock. Access roads had to be rebuilt before the crews could get in to fix the track. The UP responded to losing its northern and mid-west lines by placing an embargo (a common carrier’s legal refusal to handle traffic) on the Coast, San Joaquin, and Las Vegas lines.

Caliente Canyon Photo UPRR

Back at the docks in Long Beach (specifically named in the embargo order), Chicago-bound containers began piling up and UP’s congestion problems soared. An accident of geography allowed competitor Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to operate most of its lines and some UP trains were able to detour.

As a result of these storms and a massive snowfall in the Sierra (blocking UP’s mainline), there is very limited long-distance Amtrak service. Those wishing to take a train east have to go north to Seattle and then east on the Empire Builder to Chicago. The direct San Francisco train terminates in Denver until early February. Service south from Oakland on the Coast Starlight is suspended until further notice and the Seattle-LA train now terminates in Emeryville. Alternate service south on the San Joaquin line is handled by bus until early February, when the BNSF completes a scheduled track repair program.

Coast Line Danage Photo UPRR

A complicated conspiracy of scheduled maintenance and the wrath of Mother Nature have put a whole lot of bus in Amtrak’s services and served to offer the UP yet another congestion headache.