By Jeanie Senior
The (Portoand) Tribune
PORTLAND Transportation leaders project that the amount
of freight moving by train will double by 2020, putting stress
on the region's already busy rail and highway systems.
Truck and barge traffic also will grow, although not at the
rate predicted for rail, a transportation consultant told
the Port of Portland Commission this week. The growth signals
an improving economy and also points up the need to address
issues such as crowding in the "Portland triangle,"
where train volumes already exceed capacity.
Cambridge Systematics transportation consultant Lance Grenzeback
said this is a good time to talk about such concerns.
Grenzeback pointed out that the Class One railroads, including
the Union Pacific Railroad and the Burlington Northern Santa
Fe Railway, although stable and competitive, lack the funds
to invest in hugely expensive improvements to infrastructure,
from new rail lines to new equipment.
Jay Waldron, president of the port commission, said that
while he feels well-informed about air and maritime matters,
Grenzeback's report pointed out gaps in his railway knowledge.
Port commissioners plan to hold a lengthier session to focus
on the future of rail freight.
Some 19.5 million tons of freight, from chemicals and farm
products to merchandise, now come to the state annually by
rail. Some 13.5 million tons of Oregon products, including
lumber, pulp and paper, and foods, are shipped out of the
Trucks transport roughly four times as much freight as rail,
and barges on the Columbia and Snake rivers handle about a
fourth as much, but neither mode is forecast to see the same
level of growth as trains.