A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Rail solution around the corner

Written September 2nd, 2014 by Hasso Hering

Once again waiting at the Queen Avenue railroad crossing in Albany last week, I was wondering — and who wouldn’t be? — about when the Portland & Western would finally begin to use its new track nearby. On Tuesday I got news from Kevin Haugh, the railroad’s general manager in Salem. And it sounded good.

The wait on Queen Avenue can be pretty long, though this one wasn't.

The wait on Queen Avenue can be pretty long, though this one wasn’t.

The new track is the Santiam Lead, a short section that enables PNWR freights to bypass the Union Pacific mainline on their way to and from the Millersburg yard and the Toledo Branch across the Willamette River. In 2009, the railroad and ODOT signed a $6,990,516 grant agreement under the ConnectOregon II program for the $8.7 million project to build the track and improve the Millersburg yard. Part of the idea was to shift more of the railroad’s train building from Albany to the Millersburg yard, thus reducing blockages of busy Queen Avenue.

After delays caused by unforeseen issues at the Millersburg yard and other complications, construction was finished this year, but trains have not yet used the new track or the reconstructed Albany Wye (the Y-shaped link between the Toledo Branch, the new track and the Albany yard). The railroad still needed to work out details such as central traffic control.

But on Tuesday, General Manager Haugh sent word: “We are doing a test early next week; then we will be putting it into service.”‘

When that happens, it should ease the railroad’s operations, and Albany motorists will see if the designed effect — fewer blockages on Queen — comes about. (hh)

5 responses to “Rail solution around the corner”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    Does this mean more blockages on Old Salem RD?

  2. etts says:

    Those are Albany & Eastern units with a Train from Lebanon, not Portland & Western. So fortunately after the “Left Turn Project” you will still be able to watch this train and get free entertainment on Queen Avenue.

    BTW, anyone else notice that the old CTC signal bridge by the Albany Depot was removed? The signals were replaced earlier, but now the historic WWII era signal tower is gone. Sad

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Thanks for clarifying what we’re looking at here. I realized it wasn’t a PNWR train. Waiting at the crossing is what reminded me to inquire about the status of the Left Turn, which, by the way, the railroad considers a Right Turn. (hh)

  3. Jim Engel says:

    Why should the R/R – by either name – be in a hurry to do anything to deal with blocking Queen Ave.? Keep in mind we are crossing their private property!! Comes from those long ago land grants given out to those existing R/R’s to develop a national transportation system. Perhaps if the City got on its feet & charged a per R/R car fee during blockages something might get done. Nothing is delivered to Albany by rail. It’s all truck shipments. The R/R’s have us by the short hairs & they simply don’t care about blockages! KE


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