The Coos Bay Rail Link re-establishment is beginning to look like a reality. As we look to add manufacturing and production in Lane County, the prospect of an available deep-water port in Coos Bay-North Bend is attractive.
A Coos Bay Rail link train approaches the crossing at Green Hill Road just west of Eugene
The following was reported by Elise Hamner of the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay on Friday April 27, 2013:
Port and railroad restore full freight service to shippers on entire Coos Bay rail line
A Coos Bay Rail Link-CBR freight train this afternoon is moving the first rail shipment of plywood out of the Roseburg Forest Products mill in Coquille since the rail line closed five and a half years ago. This accomplishment marks the full restoration of freight rail service on the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay’s 134-mile Coos Bay rail line.
“We, as a community, have done the impossible,” said Port CEO David Koch. “We’ve accomplished what so many naysayers said couldn’t be done.”
This month, North Bend-based Billeter Marine and Scott Partney Construction completed the final step of repairing two critical wooden trestles to open the remaining 20 miles of rail line to Coquille. Roseburg Forest Products’ Director of Transportation Jeff Brandt said the return of rail service is very exciting for the Coquille mill and its employees.
“Moving product by rail directly out of Coquille can eliminate up to 18 truckloads per day of material being shipped to another mill, where it then is loaded on a rail car,” Brandt said. “This will not only allow us to be more competitive by reducing our costs, but it will benefit the community and environment by reducing highway traffic and emissions.”
Roseburg also transports wood chips on the rail line to its export shipping terminal on the North Spit of Coos Bay. The company is one of 11 manufacturers and agricultural producers who have transported wood products, steel, chromite ore and organic cattle feed on the shortline since 2011.
“Shippers moved 2,480 rail cars of commodities across the Coos Bay rail line in 2012. We expect to double shipments on the rail line this year now that we have service to Coquille,” said Scott Parkinson, president of the Coos Bay Rail Link-CBR, which operates the railroad.
The Port of Coos Bay purchased the line in 2009-10 and is nearing completion of a $31 million rehabilitation project. Federal and state investments in the line have brought on-the-ground improvements to every single mile of tracks between Coquille and the rail line’s connection in Eugene to the North American rail system. Almost all of the supplies and work on the tracks and trestles have been provided by companies locally and in Oregon and Washington. Ethel, Wash.-based Balfour Beatty’s team completed the major track work, utilizing ties and ballast provided by Conrad Wood Preserving of North Bend, Knife River Inc. of Coos Bay and Babb Construction of Eugene. Other vital partners locally have included Kyle Electric; Reese Electric; Stebbins, Coffey & Collins and Stuntzner Engineering; along with LRL Construction of Tillamook, H&S Construction of Roseburg and several other companies.
The Coos Bay Rail Link began freight rail operations in October 2011 and now employs 12 people, with a total payroll exceeding $500,000.