[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 68 (Wednesday, April 8, 2020)]
[Pages 19791-19792]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-07330]



[Docket No. AB 874 (Sub-No. 1X)]

Sierra Northern Railway--Abandonment Exemption--in Yolo County, 

    On March 19, 2020, Sierra Northern Railway (Sierra) filed with the 
Surface Transportation Board (Board) a petition under 49 U.S.C. 10502 
for exemption from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. 10903 
for Sierra to abandon approximately 0.70 miles of railroad line 
extending between approximately milepost 3.10 and approximately 
milepost 3.80, in Yolo County, Cal. (the Line). The Line traverses U.S. 
Postal Service Zip Code 95691.
    The Line was acquired by Sierra (which was previously known as Yolo 
Shortline Railroad Company) from Union Pacific Railroad Company in 
1992. (Pet., Ex. 8 at 19.) See Yolo Shortline R.R.--Purchase & Trackage 
Rights Exemption--Union Pac. R.R., FD 32107 (ICC served Aug. 11, 1992). 
According to Sierra, part of the Line sits atop the Sacramento Weir, 
which is an essential element in the City of Sacramento's flood control 
system. (Pet. 1.) \1\ Sierra proposes to abandon the Line because the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Sacramento Area Flood Control 
Agency (SAFCA) are in the process of implementing a flood control 
improvement project that will require, among other things, removal of 
the Line so that the current Sacramento Weir can be widened. (Pet. 2-
3.) Sierra states that it will convey its property interest in the Line 
to SAFCA soon after consummating the abandonment, and SAFCA will use 
that property to implement the flood control project. (Id. at 11.) 
Sierra states that there are currently seven customers that it serves 
via the Line, three of which receive rail service directly at their 
facilities in Woodland, Cal., and four of which use Sierra's facilities 
for car storage or car repair operations. Sierra states that the three 
customers that receive direct rail service have indicated that they 
plan to use trucks as an alternative to rail service, while the other 
customers will carry out their storage and repair operations elsewhere. 
(Id. at 6.)

    \1\ According to Sierra, the Sacramento Weir is a structure that 
acts as a flood safety valve, allowing excess flood waters to spill 
out of the adjacent river system and away from the populated areas 
of Sacramento and West Sacramento. The Weir also reduces the 
pressure on the levee system below the Weir. (Pet. 4.)

    In addition to an exemption from the provisions of 49 U.S.C. 10903, 
Sierra also seeks an exemption from the offer of financial assistance 
(OFA) procedures of 49 U.S.C. 10904 and the public use provisions of 49 
U.S.C. 10905, and waivers of corresponding regulations, as well as 
waiver of the interim trail use regulations at 49 CFR 1152.29. In 
support, Sierra states that the right-of-way for the Line is needed for 
a valid public purpose, i.e., the flood control project, and there is 
no overriding need for continued rail service, as all customers have 

[[Page 19792]]

alternatives. (Pet. 11-12.) According to Sierra, subjecting this 
abandonment transaction to conditions for offers of financial 
assistance, public use, or interim trail use would defeat the purpose 
of this petition. This request will be addressed in the final decision.
    According to Sierra, the Line does not contain any federally 
granted rights-of-way. Any documentation in Sierra's possession will be 
made available promptly to those requesting it.
    The interest of railroad employees will be protected by the 
conditions set forth in Oregon Short Line Railroad--Abandonment Portion 
Goshen Branch Between Firth & Ammon, in Bingham & Bonneville Counties, 
Idaho, 360 I.C.C. 91 (1979).
    By issuance of this notice, the Board is instituting an exemption 
proceeding pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10502(b). A final decision will be 
issued by July 7, 2020.
    Any offer of financial assistance (OFA) under 49 CFR 1152.27(b)(2) 
will be due no later than 120 days after the filing of the petition for 
exemption, or 10 days after service of a decision granting the petition 
for exemption, whichever occurs sooner. Persons interested in 
submitting an OFA must first file a formal expression of intent to file 
an offer by April 20, 2020, indicating the type of financial assistance 
they wish to provide (i.e., subsidy or purchase) and demonstrating that 
they are preliminarily financially responsible. See 49 CFR 
    Following authorization for abandonment, the Line may be suitable 
for other public use, including interim trail use. Any request for a 
public use condition under 49 CFR 1152.28 or for interim trail use/rail 
banking under 49 CFR 1152.29 will be due no later than April 28, 

    \2\ Filing fees for OFAs and trail use requests can be found at 
49 CFR 1002.2(f)(25) and (27), respectively.

    All pleadings, referring to Docket No. AB 874 (Sub-No. 1X), must be 
filed with the Surface Transportation Board either via e-filing or in 
writing addressed to 395 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20423-0001. In 
addition, a copy of each pleading must be served on Sierra's 
representative, Anthony J. LaRocca, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, 1330 
Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036. Replies to this petition are 
due on or before April 28, 2020.
    Persons seeking further information concerning abandonment 
procedures may contact the Board's Office of Public Assistance, 
Governmental Affairs, and Compliance at (202) 245-0238 or refer to the 
full abandonment regulations at 49 CFR part 1152. Questions concerning 
environmental issues may be directed to the Board's Office of 
Environmental Analysis (OEA) at (202) 245-0305. Assistance for the 
hearing impaired is available through the Federal Relay Service at 
(800) 877-8339.
    An environmental assessment (EA) (or environmental impact statement 
(EIS), if necessary) prepared by OEA will be served upon all parties of 
record and upon any agencies or other persons who comment during its 
preparation. Other interested persons may contact OEA to obtain a copy 
of the EA (or EIS). EAs in abandonment proceedings normally will be 
made available within 60 days of the filing of the petition. The 
deadline for submission of comments on the EA generally will be within 
30 days of its service.
    Board decisions and notices are available at www.stb.gov.

    Decided: April 2, 2020.

    By the Board, Allison C. Davis, Director, Office of Proceedings.
Brendetta Jones,
Clearance Clerk.
[FR Doc. 2020-07330 Filed 4-7-20; 8:45 am]