WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Coos Bay Rail Line is getting a $9.9 million boost from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the office of Rep. Peter DeFazio reported Friday.
Port officials credited DeFazio and the state's two senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Widen for the grant.
"The support of our delegation in Washington through Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representative DeFazio was critical to the Port receiving the PIDP grant," said John Burns, the port's chief executive officer. "Their continued efforts, support, and advocacy have been paramount to the CBRL's improvement and success."
The grant marks more than $40 million DeFazio has helped secure for the rail line in the past five years, he said.
“The Coos Bay Rail Line is a vital connection between Oregon’s natural resource economy and the world market, which is why I have fought to bring more than $40 million in infrastructure investments to this line,” DeFazio said. “Federal investment in critical local infrastructure like the CBRL is essential to preserving and promoting Southwest Oregon’s economic viability, and I’m proud to have secured this funding to help keep this vital rail line moving.”
The Coos Bay Rail Line is a 134-mile short line connecting the South Coast to the national railway network via the Union Pacific yard in Eugene. The line serves as a cost-effective transportation option for eight primary shippers who employ about 800 people with family wage jobs and ship an estimated $250 million in goods each year to and from Coos, western Douglas and western Lane counties, DeFazio’s office said.
The current grant will generate funds that will be used to rehabilitate and replace ties and resurface track at various locations along the rail line. The project proposes to replace 67,000 crossties and resurface the main line, sidings, an industrial lead, rail yard and spur tracks with ballast along the 121 miles from Eugene to Coos Bay. Prior grants have been used to upgrade and improve bridge crossings, rehabilitate tunnels and improve speed and capacity for the rail line.
Burns said the Port is nearing completion of its $19.5 million tunnel rehabilitation project, which is scheduled to conclude at the end of October. The project served to conduct structural repairs, track repair and drainage work in all nine tunnels along the line and was funded through a FASTLANE award through the Department of Transportation and various state and Oregon funding sources.
In early 2019, the Port also received notification of a $25 million BUILD award through the Department of Transportation, which will be matched by a $5 million grant approved by the Oregon State Legislature last session. That project, which will start in the coming months, will include full replacement of two steel bridges and major repairs to 13 other bridges, including all three swing span bridges on the line.