A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Long train, long wait at Albany crossings

Written January 21st, 2021 by Hasso Hering

From the Salem Avenue crossing, a stationary train Thursday extended beyond Albany Station, almost to Queen Avenue.

For most of its history Albany has been a railroad town, and I like it that way. For drivers this comes with the occasional inconvenience of long waits at grade crossings, as happened Thursday.

So what happened Thursday? A mile-long freight train sat on the Union Pacific mainline for more than half an hour, blocking crossings from Salem Avenue south.

I was on a bike ride in town around mid-day and could not help noticing the long lines of cars and trucks — and at least one city bus — waiting for the crossing gates to lift on Main Street, and then Santiam Road and Salem Avenue.

Just before noon a couple of guys — one on foot, the other pushing a bike — had given up waiting for the gates to go up. They sat down on the curb off the Main Street crossing to have lunch. They told me the train had sat there about 10 minutes. And according to them, the train had been going back and forth a bit, so maybe it was picking up or dropping off cars in the Albany yard.

A few minutes later, I found the two locomotives sitting still on the Salem Avenue crossing, making their customary noises, as you can see and hear in the two-minute video here:

It was 12:30 when I stopped at Albany Station, 1.2 miles from Salem Avenue as the crow flies, where the tail end of the train was still sitting on the track that would soon be needed by the southbound Coast Starlight.

Just then the freight cars there started moving, heading north and gaining speed. The Starlight was late, so the timing didn’t matter that much. But it was nice to know that all those drivers in line on Albany streets, drumming impatiently on their wheels, would soon be able to move. (hh)

5 responses to “Long train, long wait at Albany crossings”

  1. Frank says:

    You should check out Queen and Pacific. The trains must be part of a club that meets daily at noon and 4 pm.

  2. James Engel says:

    Nothing is going to change as the R/R feels that “we” are crossing their property so they will take as long as they like. That late 1800’s notion needs to be corrected. At least get “them” to not sound those train horns so loud & often. Damn horns haven’t prevented anything. I believe Eugene has a silent zone so why can’t Albany?

  3. PoC says:

    Any idea if the Millersburg intermodal will affect the trains here in Albany?

  4. Jonathan Christie says:

    In response to Mr. Engel, “we” actually are crossing “their” property, at least where Queen Avenue is concerned. Old maps show the railroad there long before the roads were put in. The maps I read weren’t detailed enough to show Salem Avenue clearly, but likely the railroad was there early enough to hold possession before the city decided to puts road in.

  5. James Engel says:

    To J. C., that was then & this is now. The R/R has failed miserably in providing a proper transportation system that was part of their getting vast tracts of land. Their disruption of everyday life now with blockages is nonsense. AT least tone down/eliminate those jarring horns day & night! Live in the late 1800’s if you like J. C.. It’s now 2021 so a change is in order. I really don’t think the intermodal deal will change much as the R/R will persist is making up trains in their present location.


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