Port aiming for CB-NB rail service to be restored this fall

Port aiming for CB-NB rail service to be restored this fall
COOS BAY, Ore.-- The Port of Coos Bay says it expects to see a major milestone in the history of the Coos Bay Rail Link this fall.

It's a project that has been five years in the making. Since being abandoned and left for ruin by a hedge fund, the Coos Bay Rail Link is slowly but surely getting back on its feet.

"The goal is to have trains back through town some time in the fall of 2012, sometime this fall," Elise Hamner, Port of Coos Bay spokeswoman, said.

Downtown Coos Bay and North Bend have not seen a train come down the tracks that run parallel to highway 101 since September 2007.

Repairs on the tracks have been the biggest hurdle, and the fight to pay for those repairs hasn't been easy. However, the next step in repairs is now under way.

"Engineers are still coming up with a package of repairs, and that's probably still another month or so away, " Hamner said. "Then we can begin to bid on those projects."

Through the proposed Project Mainstay, a large portion of money made from The Port shipping coal to Korea and other Asian countries is expected to repair and support the rail link.

But with the potential for coal to be shipped into Coos Bay, environmentalists have also voiced concerns about coal dust polluting the air in Oregon.

Allies of The Port say there are ways to be economically sound and environmentally safe.

"I've talked to the port same thing. I've talked to the railroads they say hey we can design a car that can be fully enclosed you'll have a hopper off loaded into a shed. There'll be no coal dust anywhere," said Rep. Peter Defazio, (D) Oregon, who has taken a Federal role in preserving the Coos Bay Rail Link.

Defazio said many rail companies have offered to sell a specialized carsto the port that could be used for transporting the coal in closed environment rail car.

The Port will know by November if coal companies in Wyoming and Montana want to do business with them.

If they are willing, clean coal cars and a new terminal to unload those specialized cars in would be built by 2017.