Under the guidance of the Leadership Council, the Oregon Department of Transportation is leading an environmental review process of two project Alternatives.
Alternative 1 generally follows the existing Amtrak Cascades route, along the Union Pacific Railroad line between Eugene-Springfield and Portland. It crosses the Willamette River in Portland near Union Station before continuing north on the existing BNSF tracks, to Vancouver, Wash.
Alternative 2 runs along or near Interstate 5 from Eugene-Springfield to Keizer then it follows the Oregon Electric rail line from Keizer to Wilsonville. From Wilsonville it follows I-5 and I-205 to Oregon City, where it merges with the existing Amtrak alignment.
At its December 8 meeting, the Oregon Passenger Rail Leadership Council reached an agreement on the Preferred Alternative to be carried forward into Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
The Leadership Council concurred with the project team’s recommendations that Alternative 1 be identified as the Preferred Alternative in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement as it provides more frequent and reliable rail service in a cost effective way. The recommended preferred alternative follows the existing alignment on the Union Pacific Railroad line and increases Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger train service between Eugene and Portland from two daily round trips to six daily round trips over the next 20 years. This planned increase in passenger rail service in Oregon will also match scheduled train service north of Portland Union Station into Washington and British Columbia. The recommendation was developed over years of technical analysis, robust public engagement and Leadership Council deliberation.
The recommendation is a major milestone making Oregon eligible to compete for future federal dollars when they become available, such as the recently approved FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act transportation bill.
The recommendation is not a final decision - all alternatives will be analyzed in the DEIS before a Final Preferred Alternative is identified. After the DEIS is published in late 2016, the public will be able to provide feedback during a formal comment period. Public hearings will be held at that time.