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The Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) discontinued operations on the 136-mile Coos Bay Line between Vaughn and Coquille, Ore., last month because of “unsafe” tunnel conditions. The line, a former Southern Pacific Railroad branch that features nine tunnels that are more than 115 years old, will be closed indefinitely.
Several tunnels require extensive repairs to eliminate the risk of collapse, according to CORP. A geotechnical and environmental engineering firm specializing in rail tunnels recently determined three of the tunnels need immediate repairs.
Last year, the 439-mile short line began repairing one tunnel, but repair work triggered a collapse that cost about $2 million to fix.
The short line plans to form a public-private partnership to complete repairs, which could cost about $7 million over the next five years, said CORP General Manager Kevin Spradlin in a prepared statement.
“We regret any inconvenience that this closure causes our customers, but the line has become unsafe for our employees to use,” he said. “We tried to keep it open as long as possible.”
Formed in 1995 and owned by RailAmerica Inc., CORP is working with customers to truck some freight to a line between Eugene and Roseburg, Ore., to provide rail-car transfers. The short line also operates the Siskiyou Line between Eugene and Black Butte, Calif.
Last month, representatives from the North Carolina State Ports Authority, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and Wilmington Terminal Railroad L.L.C. drove ceremonial golden spikes to mark the completion of a 5,300-foot siding at the Port of Wilmington.
The ports authority and NCDOT partnered with the railroad to construct the siding, which will improve the port’s rail traffic flow. The authority provided $600,000 and NCDOT contributed $200,000 for the project.
The siding will help expedite the building of westbound trains destined for CSX Transportation’s Davis Yard in Leland, minimize traffic disruptions at public grade crossings near the port and provide the railroad an area for building double-stack trains in the future, according to the authority.
“Until now, assembling outbound trains has been inefficient, with rail cars scattered throughout the port,” said Tom Eagar, the authority’s chief executive officer, in a prepared statement.
The siding will be owned by the authority and leased by the railroad, which operates more than 18 miles of track at the port.