Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist told Jim Cox, ODOT major projects assistant manager, that he’s concerned there’s not enough representation of rural communities in a long-term study of inter-city rail service between Eugene and Vancouver, Wash.
Cox attended Wednesday morning’s board meeting to update Nyquist and fellow commissioners John Lindsey and Will Tucker about the study that could ultimately include travel to routes to Vancouver, B.C.
He was joined by Amy Ramsdell, ODOT Area 4 manager.
Cox said it is far too early in the process to talk about potential costs of developing the rail system, although it would undoubtedly be in the billions of dollars.
The project timeline would be at least 20 years.
“I’m concerned there will be a negative impact on the quality of life for people who live in Harrisburg, Halsey, Shedd and Tangent,” Nyquist said. “A train going through those communities at 125 miles per hour would surely not be good.”
He added that if the project included utilizing Union Pacific rails, speed would be capped at 75 miles per hour.
Cox said trains powered by diesel-burning engines have a top speed of about 110 miles per hour.
Nyquist said a committee working with the project is composed in part by mayors of larger communities, but rural mayors were left out of the mix.
Tangent Mayor Seaton McLennan said when he learned of the study, he passed the information along to the other small communities involved.
“We don’t want a divided community,” McLennan emphasized.
Four alternative routes are in the mix in terms of discussions.
One generally follows the existing Amtrak Cascades route and use existing stations. One option would be to add new track south of Salem and a second option would provide a new station near Portland’s Rose Quarter.
A second alternative would run along Interstate 5, inside of or near the current highway right of way. South of Portland it would flow Interstate 205 north and Interstate 84 west. It would bypass existing stations in Eugene, Albany and Salem, but could include new stations in Springfield, Albany, Salem/Keizer and the southern Portland Metro area.
A third alternative would use portions of the existing Oregon Electric line, plus portions of the blue alignment from the Eugene station to the Eugene rail yard.
The fourth alternative would include new track from Junction City to Monroe and would connect to the existing rail line through Corvallis to Albany.
Open houses on rail-service study set for November
An ODOT inter-city passenger rail service study open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Linn-Benton Community College, 6500 Pacific Blvd. S.W.
An open house will also be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry, 626 High St. N.E., Salem; and from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Eugene Main Public Library, 100 West 10th Ave.
The public also can participate online at www.oregonpassengerrail.org from Nov. 5 to 18.