The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay told federal rail regulators it wants to go ahead and acquire a closed rail line, so it can restore rail service for some shippers in the western part of that state.
The port notified the Surface Transportation Board on Dec. 1, a deadline the board had set to receive the port's decision, that it will proceed to acquire the 111-mile Coos Bay feeder line from Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad, or CORP, a short line in the RailAmerica portfolio owned by Fortress Investment Group.
CORP halted service on that line segment in September 2007, after determining some of its tunnels were unsafe to use without expensive repairs.
RailAmerica eventually filed with the STB to abandon the line, and the port stepped in to purchase at its liquidation value. The two sides wrangled over the figures, and the STB finally set the price at $16.6 million.
The port could begin operating 20 miles of it soon after the deal closes in February, but will have to fix the tunnels before using the rest.
Martin Callery, the port's director of communications and freight mobility, said to fund the purchase the port will tap a mix of a resources. Among them is a $4 million grant from a state legislative program for freight transportation, plus some commercial financing.
It also plans to use $8 million that Congress authorized in 2005 for the Coos Bay port to spend on another purpose; that money will first have to be legally redirected for the line purchase, through a technical correction to the earlier law.