Vital Links to Healthy Communities
Until 1999, Morse Bros. trucked 500,000 tons of aggregate annually from its Salem quarry to its Portland site -- about 13,000 trucks each year, nearly all returning to Salem with empty backhauls. Now, in partnership with the Portland & Western Railroad, Morse sends the aggregate to Portland by rail, on its own 17-car unit train.
"We can move rock cheaper by rail than we can on the highway. Our biggest reward is the reduction of risk by not having to have our trucks on the road".
Dave Jensen -- Morse Bros.
Six years ago, Medford Ready-Mix had its own fleet of trucks to haul cement from Portland. When the company built its White City facility, access to the White City Terminal and Utility Railway and the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad allowed the company to eliminate its truck fleet, freeing I-5 of the cement trucks, and reducing the company's insurance and transportation costs.
If the short lines fell silent in Oregon, autos would have to share the state's roads with more than 500,000 more semi-trailer trucks. Trains move 55 million tons of freight each year, with nearly half traveling over short lines. In 1999, Marion County's three short lines alone transported 34,447 carloads. That's the equivalent of more than 120,000 truckloads added to farm roads and I-5.
For travelers on Oregon highways, the reward is clear. Safety is also an issue since the accident rate for truck traffic is nearly five times greater than the accident rate for rail traffic.