Merkley, Wyden Announce $3.7 Million in Federal Funds for Railway Safety Upgrade for Willamette Valley Passengers and Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that $3.7 million in federal funding is headed to Oregon to finance a critical rail upgrade for Amtrak and freight services in the Willamette Valley.

“Between the unprecedented wildfires and their hazardous smoke and this pandemic—Oregonians are fighting crises on many fronts,” said Merkley. “While we address these crises, we also need to keep building a strong foundation for a prosperous future. That includes investing in the state-of-the art infrastructure that passengers, consumers, and businesses in the Willamette Valley can count on to get themselves and their goods from Point A to Point B.”

“Reliable rail service is a must for Oregonians in the Willamette Valley to have multiple options for convenient passenger travel and the smooth transport of business goods,” Wyden said. “Smart and targeted federal infrastructure investments like this one are especially important at a time when our state is working so hard to weather COVID-19 and wildfires now, and to be in a strong position once these devastating challenges are finally in our rearview mirror.”

“ODOT thanks Senator Merkley and the Oregon congressional delegation for supporting this $3.7M CRISI grant award to rehabilitate an out-of-service rail siding in Oregon City. This work will improve the travel times and reliability of Amtrak services on the Portland to Eugene rail corridor and it will allow trains to safely pass each other, alleviating a key chokepoint,” said Karyn Criswell, ODOT Public Transportation Division Administrator.

The grant is being administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and will restore a one-mile long siding track along the Union Pacific mainline on the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor. Siding tracks connect main tracks and are used to enable trains on the same line to pass one another.