Construction is expected to begin in 2015 to upgrade the Siskiyou Rail CORP rail line between Ashland and Weed, California thanks to a federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) IV grant.
The project will rehabilitate Tunnel 14 near Siskiyou Summit, bridges, ties and rails along the section. Work trains are expected to use the line during construction so the line will be active through the southern Rogue Valley to the work site. Construction is expected to wrap up by late fall 2015.
Reopening this line will provide an additional transportation option for the delivery of southern Oregon lumber and manufactured goods to national and world markets. Currently, region manufacturers rely on either interstate truck, or rail cars sent to/from Eugene to join the Union Pacific mainline. This costs valuable time and money, depending on the chosen transportation mode.
ODOT, southern Oregon counties and private industry and Siskiyou County, California were successful in receiving the TIGER IV grant for significant improvements to the Siskiyou Line, which has not been used since 2008. No funds outside the TIGER IV grant were requested from other public entities. CORP has agreed to provide a 25% match to the project.
Improvements on this section of line in southern Oregon and northern California will renew and improve interstate freight rail options and business competitiveness, help retain and increase regional employment to manufacturing and wood product industries which provide family wage jobs.
By reopening this line, CORP customers and shippers would have access to the Union Pacific mainline, reduce transportation costs and enhance access to the national railroad network, and national and international markets.
In the case of trucks, this mode increases emissions and causes additional congestion on Interstate 5. Rail service has been shown to be both safer and more efficient, reducing congestion by 3.5 trucks for each rail car used.
The Siskiyou Line dates back to the late 1880s and is the original rail link between San Francisco and Portland until the the Cascade Line opened from Eugene through Oakridge and Klamath falls to Weed in 1927.
“The southern Region is the third highest truck volume region, but has the lowest density rail corridor.”
~ Oregon Rail Tunnel Assessment, Shannon and Wilson, Inc. Consultants.