Umpqua Post Government and Politics STOCK

REEDSPORT — City leaders have taken a larger regional economic perspective, issuing support for replacing the Vaughn Viaduct Rail Bridge.

Meeting Monday, councilors approved sending a support letter to the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay. 

Reedsport City Manager Jonathan Wright emphasized that the bridge is critical for moving freight along the Coos Bay rail line and therefore helps the Reedsport economy, too. 

"Without the Vaughn Viaduct, rail traffic and the goods transported along the line would be unable to flow into or out of the southwest coast of Oregon by rail," he wrote in a staff report. 

The rail line gives freight line access to companies in western Douglas, Coos and western Lane counties. Plus the railroad provides the sole access to the Coos Bay deep water harbor.

Going with the Federal Rail Administration's mandates, Port officials finished a review of the Vaughn bridge, using the Port's contracted engineering company. The bridge is structurally obsolete, dating back 100 years.

Port officials bought and reopened the Coos Bay Rail Line in 2011, getting more freight more quickly to rural southwestern Oregon. 

Wright emphasized to councilors that the rail line provides 1,000 family wage jobs and in turn, keeps roughly 25,000 commercial trucks off the road, preserving highways. He added that replacing the bridge will help energize the Reedsport Commerce Park and Bolon Island areas. 

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The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or shelby.case@theworldlink.com.