Amtrak Will Match Oregon Grant Bid Effort

Amtrak will match a federal grant bid being made by the Oregon Department of Transportation that will be used to improve tracks used by Cascades and Coast Starlight trains.

The passenger carrier will chip in $750,000 toward the project that seeks to reduce delays in the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor.

Oregon’s share would be $1.6 million of the $7.83 million project.
If the $5 million federal grant is awarded it will be used to rebuild the out of service Oregon City industrial track located between Portland and Salem, Oregon. It will create a 5,000-foot siding.

The first phase of the project would include laying new track and ties, and equipping both ends with power-operated switches and switch heaters.
The second phase will involve laying additional track on an adjacent three-mile section between Oregon City and an existing siding to the south.
This will result in five miles of new double-track section between Portland and Salem.

The track in question is located on a seven-mile stretch of Union Pacific’s Brooklyn Subdivision.

ODOT is seeking a U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grants to help fund the work.

Oregon Rail and Public Transit Division Rail Planner Bob Melbo said that under current operations if an Amtrak train is late it must wait at existing passing tracks at Clackamas to the north or Coalca to the south. If a UP freight is already occupying one of those sidings that could further exacerbate the delay.

Melbo says the industrial track was never used as a passing track when Southern Pacific installed centralized traffic control on the line in the 1950s, but converting it to a siding is more cost effective than building a siding elsewhere.

A decision on the grant application is expected later this year.

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