Home Back Issues December 2007 Rail line's woes and foes

Rail line's woes and foes

| Print |  Email
Archives - December 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007

RailwayTracks.jpg

COOS BAY After unexpectedly shutting down traffic on a rail line between Eugene and Coos Bay this fall, the Boca Raton, Fla., company RailAmerica wants to form a public and private partnership to fund as much as $30 million in repairs to three of the line’s 125-year-old tunnels — a suggestion that Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) slammed as an attempt to “extort” millions from the Port of Coos Bay and Oregon taxpayers.

The 126-mile Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad is a critical link for shippers such as Georgia-Pacific, Roseburg Forest Products and Reedsport’s American Bridge. According to estimates from the Port of Coos Bay, the line carries about 7,500 cars a year. After RailAmerica stopped traffic on Sept. 21 with no warning, Georgia-Pacific laid off 120 workers from its Coos Bay sawmill, and the Port of Coos Bay filed a $15 million lawsuit against the rail company for not giving the port enough notice of the closure.

State senators and representatives blasted company officials, going so far as to accuse RailAmerica of trying to pressure the state to fund the repairs. DeFazio held meetings with the U.S. transportation secretary and the director of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Company CEO John Giles is part of an investment group that bought RailAmerica, which owns 43 short-line railroads around the nation, last February. A few months before he took over, RailAmerica had spent $2 million in repair work on a single tunnel on the Coos Bay line. “It’s important for everyone to know that this problem didn’t pop up [this year]. The history is that there have been chronic problems,” he says.

The latest inspection report from RailAmerica’s engineering firm, which is dated July 16, strongly suggests the company make immediate repairs in three tunnels where support timbers — some of which are an estimated 95 years old — are rotten and rocks are falling. Giles says that report, which was reviewed by the company’s own engineer for several months after it was generated, was the impetus for the sudden closure. A subsequent inspection performed by the FRA in October validated RailAmerica’s findings, reporting that, “All three tunnels need immmediate repairs to permit the safe resumption of railroad operations.”


Marin Callery, the director of freight mobility at the port of Coos Bay, says no one is questioning that the rail line needs work. The port’s immediate concern, he says, is that shippers have a way to move their freight. DeFazio’s office is looking at the long-term economic impact; chief of staff Penny Dodge says there are worries the company may be trying to abandon the railroad.

Because there are multiple stakeholders, Giles says, there should be shared fiscal responsibility for its repair. “If you want us to open tunnels, we’ll put up our hand and offer our pro rata share, but you have to be prepared to step forward, state of Oregon,” he says. “You have to be willing to step forward, shippers. You have to be willing to step forward, Coos Bay.”     

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

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

Downtime

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How State Representative Julie Parrish (House District 37) balances life between work and play.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kim Ierian, President of Concorde Career Colleges, and Deborah Edward, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


Read more...

Report Card

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Strong public schools shore up the economy, survey respondents say. But local schools demonstrate lackluster performance.


Read more...

Green Endeavor cleans up

News
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
080614 ULnew greenendeavorBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.


Read more...

Private liberal arts education: superior outcomes, competitive price

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
0826 thumb collegemoneyBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?


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