Oregon Transportation Plan (OTP), the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) established a policy foundation to guide statewide transportation system development and investment. The OTP is augmented by mode and topic plans, including the Oregon State Rail Plan (OSRP). The OSRP explores the issues affecting the state's rail freight and passenger system and describes existing conditions and forecasts, and provides a comprehensive inventory of rail infrastructure needs.
Unlike highway or transit systems, the rail network is predominantly owned by private industry, requiring a unique public- and private-sector collaboration to proactively plan and explore the best mix of transportation investments to ensure a safe, efficient, and reliable rail network for the benefit of Oregon’s residents and businesses.
Given the comprehensive list of passenger and freight rail needs, limited state funding, and growing political, business and public interest in rail, a standardized approach is needed to catalog and update projects and to streamline and methodize their tracking and prioritization.
The list of passenger and freight needs was used to develop the Rail Needs Inventory
(RNI), a project database and an overarching decision framework to guide investment and programming decisions. The RNI is a key component and action item described in the Oregon State Rail Plan - Implementation Plan (OSRP-IP).
The user-friendly online map of the current RNI projects is located here.
Rail Needs InventoryThis approach to implementation planning will:
- Identify and assess rail projects that could be implemented or supported by ODOT
- Streamline and standardize the tracking and funding prioritization of rail projects
- Support transparency and thorough documentation of decision-making
- Leverage federal, state and private funds
The decision framework includes a ranking methodology that considers grant funding requirements and roles of ODOT and partner agencies.
The Rail Needs Inventory is a user-friendly, interactive dashboard containing:
- A list of potential projects
- A description of the project characteristics (location, ownership, operations)
- The results of the project evaluation, organized within 6 Factors and 22 Evaluation Criteria
The Rail Needs Inventory was developed in 2021/22 by Agency staff, Technical Advisory Committee Stakeholders, and a Working Group of the Rail Advisory Committee.
A series of workshops were held to discuss and develop the Factors, Evaluation Criteria, Scoring Methods, and approach to supporting data requirements.
The RNI was endorsed by the Rail Advisory Committee at their March 21, 2023 meeting and was presented to the Oregon Transportation Commission for approval at their July 2023 meeting.
Over time, information for potential projects in the Rail Needs Inventory (RNI) may need to be refreshed and emergence of new project proposals will require changes and additions to the RNI. To facilitate this flow of information to ODOT an online RNI Intake Form was developed for use by authorized entities. However, in the case of a new proposal, form submission is not a guarantee of a project being added to the RNI; all RNI entries are reviewed and vetted by ODOT rail subject matter experts. The RNI is intended to prioritize projects for grant funding, and therefore entities that are eligible to apply for grants are best positioned to submit projects to the RNI through this form. These eligible entities can include, but are not limited to: Class I, II or III railroads; Amtrak; regional passenger rail authorities; regional planning organizations; political subdivisions of a state; and federally recognized Indian Tribes.
The RNI Intake Form is located here.
A user-friendly online map of the current RNI projects is located here.
Rail Needs Inventory Online Map
The current RNI includes 126 rail improvement projects throughout Oregon.
Full description of each RNI project is included in an online map located here. Users are provided general instructions on how to navigate the map and locate specific RNI projects. Supporting content within the online map provide the user with important reference data, including:
- Rail-Highway crossings (Federal Railroad Administration)
- Rail Subdivisions
- Railroad Ownership
- Environmental Data (national wetlands inventory and landslide susceptibility), and
- ODOT's Social Equity Index (used as one of several RNI project evaluation criteria)
The online map will be updated as new projects are proposed by eligible entities, and reviewed and accepted by ODOT via the RNI Intake Form.