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

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Playoffs pay off for the Ducks

The Latest
Friday, January 02, 2015
oregon-ducks-logo-helmet-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The University of Oregon football team looked unstoppable on the field Jan. 1 — and the university is reaping the benefits of the new postseason format.


Read more...

Transportation Fairness Alliance holds demonstration in Pioneer Square

The Latest
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
IMG 3367BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland's cab companies urged city hall for consideration as officials weigh new rules for Uber and other ridesharing companies.


Read more...

Corner Office: Steve Tatone

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits about the president and CEO of AKT Group.


Read more...

A legislative preview — and celebration

News
Friday, January 23, 2015
012315-speaker-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.


Read more...

Free Falling

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121714-oilprice-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

The implosion of the energy complex: The best thing for low oil prices is low oil prices.


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