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The Oregon Legislature last week voted in favor of allocating $10 million to the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay to continue rehabilitating the publicly owned Coos Bay rail line, which runs 134 miles between Coquille and Eugene.The port has invested nearly $31 million to rehabilitate the line, which it acquired in 2009 and now is operated by the Coos Bay Rail Link. To be available to the port in July 2014, the state allocation will help the port bolster bridges to meet new load-rating protocols set by the Federal Railroad Administration. The port estimates it will cost $58 million to comply with the new requirements within the mandated five-year period.During recent bridge inspections/evaluations, engineers identified $25 million to $30 million worth of bridge repairs that need to be completed within the next two to three years, said port spokesperson Elise Hamner in an email, adding that there are 118 bridges on the Coos Bay line. The $10 million from the state will be allocated for those priority repairs, she said."Following more analysis, we will develop project proposals in early 2014 to be ready to quickly begin work once we receive the Oregon funds [in July 2014]," said Hamner. "The money spent on these bridges represents a long-term investment in critical transportation infrastructure … [and] will buy decades more life for these bridges and the Coos Bay rail line."The port so far has completed work on some wooden trestles and repaired seven steel bridges. The port also will receive $6 million more this year in ConnectOregon III funds for repairs to three swing-span bridges in Coos Bay, Reedsport and near Florence, said Hamner.In addition, the port has applied for a $12.1 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery V, or TIGER V, grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation to help fund bridge repairs. Moreover, the port has committed $1 million in port and private funding to bridge repairs, which includes money generated through a surcharge on rail cars, said Hamner.Overall, the port is completing the first major phase of the line's rehabilitation. The work involved repairs to nine tunnels, the steel/timber bridge repairs and a complete rehabilitation of the tracks, which included the installation of 93,000 new ties and 60,000 tons of ballast.
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