The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will host several open houses in September to solicit public input on potential improvements to passenger-rail service between Portland and the Eugene-Springfield areas.
The 125-mile segment is part of the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor that stretches between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver, British Columbia. The study will help determine a general passenger-rail route and evaluate options for train frequency, trip time and on-time performance improvements, ODOT officials said in the agency’s summer newsletter.
Current Amtrak Cascades service between Eugene and Portland includes two round trips daily, with each trip taking about 2 hours and 35 minutes to complete. To position Oregon for federal funding to improve passenger rail, the state must complete a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). ODOT is in the ‘scoping’ stage to identify issues to be addressed in the EIS.
Annual Amtrak Cascades ridership has increased “significantly” during the past five years, ODOT officials said. Over the next 25 years, the Willamette Valley area’s population is projected to increase by 35 percent and freight volume in the state is expected to grow by 60 percent, they said.
“This will result in travel demand that exceeds existing freight- and passenger-rail capacity,” ODOT officials said. “ODOT is studying how improved passenger-rail service can address increased travel demands, especially as funding for highway projects is in decline.”
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