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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Oregon commuter-rail project back on track

Yesterday, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) announced he secured a commitment from U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to proceed with the 14.7-mile Washington County, Ore., commtuer-rail project.

Earlier this year, the president included funds for the project in his budget. However, work has stalled because of a rule change in the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) cost-effectiveness calculation, which placed the project out of range to receive a "recommended" rating for a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA).

Now, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005: A Legacy for Users, which was approved by Congress last week, includes language that would modify the cost-effectiveness requirement.

In addition, the fiscal-year 2006 Senate appropriations bill includes $15 million for the project.

County officials now will resume final design for the line. Officials expect to complete design by year’s end, obtain a FFGA in mid-2006 and begin construction shortly thereafter. The line could open in fall 2008.

The commuter-rail service will operate on existing freight tracks along the Interstate 5 and Highway 217 corridor, and connect with Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District’s light-rail service in Beaverton.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/3/2005