Sponsored by Oregon Business

Rail problems east, south have few answers, many obstacles

| Print |  Email
Archives - March 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009

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?”


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



More Articles

Fare Thee Well, Company Town

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Corporate headquarters are no longer a marker of economic prowess.


Back to School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone. 


Getting What You Pay For

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.


The Cover Story

The Latest
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
100515-cover1015-news-thumbBY CHRIS NOBLE

As we worked on the October cover, it became evident that Nick Symmonds is a hard man to catch — even when he’s not hotfooting it around a track.


Summer of acquisition

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Reader Input: School Choice

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Which of the following would be most effective in reducing the cost of operating a public university in Oregon?

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02