Vital Links to Healthy Communities
"Two of the past four winters have wreaked havoc on our railroad with mudslides and washouts that have cost us over $700,000 in repairs alone."
Walt Brickwedel -- Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad, Roseburg
To understand the cost of maintaining Oregon's short lines, consider a mile of track. In that mile, you'll find about 3,200 railroad ties. It costs around $50 to buy and install each one. Routine maintenance of existing ties can run $3,500 per mile per year. When you consider that Oregon short lines cover 1,120 route-miles, it's easy to see how costs mount up.
"What this means for the 400 miles we maintain on our system is that we should be spending $1.4 million per year just to maintain the status quo on the health of our ties."
Robert Melbo -- Former President, Portland & Western
But ties are only part of the maintenance equation. Next, count the rail crossings. Oregon's short lines maintain 1,176 public rail crossings; 424 of those have electronic signals and many have gates. They must be inspected weekly. Each short line maintains yards and side track as well.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) recently estimated that Oregon's short lines have immediate rehabilitation needs of about $32 million. Its Rail Division estimates that about 12 percent of Oregon's short line rail system is in poor condition.
The short lines railroads bear most of the cost of maintaining their rail lines as well as capital improvements, spending together about $8 million each year on safety and upkeep. Some federal and state grant and loan programs are available, but do not come close to filling the gap.
Oregon's short line operators are doing their part to keeps the state's lines healthy and safe. That's important for safety today and for the economy tomorrow.
"Railroad lines tend to be a finite resource. No one is making more of them. We need to save the ones we have because we aren't building new ones."