Improvements begin to reopen Siskiyou rail line
Construction is underway on the first of three different phases to upgrade the Siskiyou Rail CORP rail line thanks to a federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) IV grant.
Three contractors will begin work this spring and summer to reopen the 95 mile Siskiyou rail line between Ashland, Oregon and Weed, California.
When complete later this year, it will connect the original West Coast rail line to the Union Pacific mainline at Weed, Calif. Opening this line will provide faster service and additional transportation options for the delivery of southern Oregon lumber and manufactured goods to national and world markets by avoiding the need to travel by rail north to Eugene to connect to the UP mainline.
The estimated $9.5 million project ($7.1M in federal funds) will rehabilitate about 65 miles of the corridor including rails and ties, minor repairs to 32 bridges and a tunnel – Tunnel 14.
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 must 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.
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 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.