Rail problems east, south have few answers, many obstacles

| Print |  Email
Sunday, March 01, 2009
ATSfloods.jpg

STATEWIDE Rural rail lines in Oregon are the best hope some counties have to support industry, either what little forest products manufacturing that remains, or the potential for something greater in the future. But while rural Oregonians have convincing arguments for a need for rail, there are few answers as to how to make it happen.

On the eastern side of the state, there’s a local push to restore passenger service between Portland and Baker City in the hopes of drumming up tourism. Washington D.C.-based Amtrak is conducting a viability study. The biggest stumbling block, however, is out of Oregon and Amtrak’s reach: Increasing national freight traffic means the line’s owner, Union Pacific, has little capacity for passenger trains.

“There are so many variables,” says Amtrak spokesperson Vernae Graham when asked about the decision to restore service. “You have to see what makes good business sense.”

December 2007’s massive storm decimated the Port of Tillamook Bay railroad. Repairs are estimated between $30 million and $50 million. Port officials and members of the governor’s office and ODOT have failed to come up with even a fraction of that money, and are losing out on the possibility of receiving matching funds from FEMA. Should the line remain unrepaired, Oregon will lose its only rail link from the coast to the Portland Metro area.

Further south in Coos Bay, another saga looks more hopeful. Government officials spent the first week of the session frantically finding ways to come up with $16.6 million to buy the damaged line that runs between the coast and Eugene. In February, the state approved $12.6 million in bridge loans that will enable the Port of Coos Bay to purchase the rail line that was shut down by Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad.

With a viable rail line, the Port of Coos Bay is likely to become some kind of container shipping port. That puts Oregon in a competitive position with the rest of the Pacific Rim. And it turns rail from a rural issue to an international one.

“What do we as state want to do with [rail]?” asks State Rep. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay. “If we want to be a player, what kind of infrastructure do we need?”

ABRAHAM HYATT


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

6 development projects reshaping Bend

The Latest
Thursday, April 09, 2015
bendthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.


Read more...

6 highlights from the Craft Brewers Conference

The Latest
Friday, April 17, 2015
thumbPHOTOS BY  JASON E. KAPLAN

The 32nd annual CBC attracted a record number of attendees (11,000)  to the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Announcing the date of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon event

News
Friday, March 20, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-250pxwBY OB STAFF

Join us to celebrate and network with Oregon’s best green workplaces!


Read more...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


Read more...

The Health Guru

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Mohan Nair channels a visionary.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS