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Port of Oakland won't commit to Crows Landing project

The Port of Oakland won’t back a $52 million plan to develop a short-haul railroad at Crows Landing.

Spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur and Jon Amdur, a freight expert and manager of the maritime capital improvement program, said short-haul rail — at Crows Landing or anywhere else in the Northern San Joaquin Valley — doesn’t figure into the Port’s immediate plans.

“Our priority projects all involve long-haul rail,” Amdur said in a Thursday morning conference call with The Bee. “That’s our proven market. That’s what our customers are pushing (and) that’s what the railroads are pushing.”

Sandifur also said the Port wouldn’t participate in a joint application seeking state funding for a variety of needed rail improvements in Northern California, including Crows Landing.

Instead, she said the Port would join with the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads in pursuing a host of projects designed to make it easier and cheaper to move goods from California to the nation’s interior.

“We are supportive of the (short-haul) rail concept as a long-range strategy,” Sandifur said, “just not at this time.”

Without a commitment from the Port, it was unclear today how the Crows Landing plan would proceed, if it moves forward at all.

Sacramento developer Gerry Kamilos, who heads PCCP West Park, reacted with surprise when told of the Port’s comments.

“That’s inconsistent with what we’ve been told by Port management,” said Kamilos, adding he wanted to speak directly with Port officials before commenting further. “We just need to validate this.”

Amdur called the plan for Crows Landing an “idea whose time hasn’t come yet.”

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