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The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

Coos Bay Rail link makes its return to the Bay Area following $30 million renovation

By Alyssa Lovell and Brittany Cook | Collaborative reporters

What was once quiet downtown Coos Bay will soon become the main stage for Coos Bay Rail (CBR) Link’s freight train.

Coos Bay has been in the absence of a working rail road since 2007 when the state government put a restraint on the shipment of freight from the local port. There was also too much damage that needed to be fixed, according to engineer and conductor Randy King.

“[There was] too much repair to do on [the] rails,” King said.

According to CBR’s general manager Tom Foster, increasing demand for materials such as wood and steel resulted in the revival of the rail road.

“The port [of Coos Bay] and state of Oregon needed a rail,” Foster said.

The state granted the rail road $30 million to do renovations on the bridges and track. Since the restoration, the rail has been in full working order for about one year. It has acquired five locomotives and averages 200 freight loads per month between the cities and towns of Eugene, North Bend and now Coos Bay. The rail road was officially restored in Coos Bay on Dec. 5.

The rail provides new opportunities for shipments of goods.

“It gives them an option for shipping besides just trucks,” Foster said.

South Port, Georgia Pacific and Swanson are some of the businesses taking advantage of the rail.

CBR is already looking to the future and hoping to expand even more once it reaches Coos Bay. But until this expansion happens, the company is planning on hiring only a few people.

“We’ll probably hire at least one [new employee],” Foster said.

Although the company will not add many workers until the rail road develops and grows, it has still benefitted various individuals in the area.  Foster believes the rail road has helped local employment by giving people an opportunity to get a job that pays well and has retirement benefits.

“It’s created jobs for local people,” Foster said.

According to CBR Operation Manager Aaron Lovelady, Coos Bay has also gained financially from the rail road.

“It’s great for the local economy,” Lovelady said. “It’s been a great opportunity.”

Foster believes the people who participate in this historic project are giving the city of Coos Bay a chance to be part of something that will impact the generations to come.

“We all got a chance to come here and start up something from scratch,” Foster said.

Duke Rodley, General Manager of the rail road, also brings to attention the advantage of taking semi-trucks off the highways in order to make them safer.

“The shipping traffic is horrible, so we want to relieve some of the traffic,” Rodley said.

According to Elise Hamner, Port of Coos Bay’s communications and community affairs manager, the new railroad benefits the environment as well as people.

“It’s a really efficient way to move products,” Hamner said. “And it’s much cheaper.”

Compared to hauling freight by semi-trucks, railroads save 258 gallons of diesel per mile while carrying one ton of cargo.

“We remove four semi-trucks from the highway [per one rail car],” Hamner said.

In addition to safer highways, fewer semi-trucks mean fewer emissions of products harmful to the environment.

“It cuts down on greenhouse gases,” Hamner said.

With all the pros of the railroad, Hamner believes the rail will have a strong and bright future, but the possibility of another closure is still on the employees’ minds.

“It could close if we can’t attract new business here,” Hamner said. “It’s our challenge as a community.”

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    Oregon International Port of Coos BayJan 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks for your hard work and a great story and photos. – Port of Coos Bay staff

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Coos Bay Rail link makes its return to the Bay Area following $30 million renovation