OregonLive.com | August 7, 2014
By Rob Davis
A group of local and state leaders is urging Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and the state’s top transportation officials not to award $6.9 million in subsidies to projects that would aid the expansion of oil and coal train traffic.
The officials, including Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury and the mayors of The Dalles, Albany, Eugene, Milwaukie, Beaverton and Hood River, say the state should do more to prepare for oil train accidents before spending money to expand traffic.
State subsidies shouldn’t be awarded without understanding the impact on Oregonians’ health and safety, the elected officials say. The projects hold “the potential for grave risk to people, property and the environment,” Kafoury and Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey said in a letter.
The state’s transportation commission will decide later this month whether to spend $2.9 million on a rail line improvement project in Rainier, a Columbia River town where oil train traffic bisects the main street. The project would install curbs, reconfigure parking and add designated pedestrian and vehicle crossings on A Street, allowing trains to speed up from 10 mph to 25 mph and blow their horns fewer times.
The Rainier project would allow the number of mile-long oil trains passing through the town to increase from 24 monthly to 38, helping expansion plans and profits for an oil shipping terminal operated near Clatskanie by Massachusetts-based Global Partners.