Vital Links to Healthy Communities
"Without rail, we would lose access to some markets. We would not be abler to remain competitive if we had to change to truck. The Midwest and the East Coast markets would really be hard for use to serve without rail."
Ron Wilson -- Ochoco Lumber
Short lines create markets for Oregon companies. Without a short line connection, many Oregon companies simply would not be able to compete for business nationally and internationally. Short Lines transport Oregon products to market, but they also bring critical raw materials into the state.
Although Eastern Oregon is a grain-producing region, there isn't enough grain available year-round for area dairy and cattle operations. Beef Northwest in Nyssa gets 100 carloads of grain a year delivered by the Oregon Eastern Railroad. The feed supports 28,000 cattle at its facility as well as 40 to 50 local dairies. The cost to truck the grain would erase Beef Northwest's competitive edge.
The percent of Willamette Industries' lumber and plywood from its Willamette Valley mills heads to the East Coast. Without short line service, the company would lose its East Coast market.
Lakeview's Cornerstone Industrial Minerals Co. opened a new processing facility for perlite mined nearby. The Lake County Railroad originates 98 percent of the perlite on its way to markets as far away as Cleveland, Ohio. If shipped by truck, transportation costs would double.
Ochoco Lumber in Prineville ships wood chips to Northwest paper mills and lumber for the Midwest and East Coast construction industry. Without service from the City of Prineville Railroad, profits for the chip operation would be cut in half.
The Albany & Eastern Railroad is a vital link to North Carolina furniture manufacturers for a hardboard production plant in Lebanon that employs 120 people.
When the 1996 Tillamook floods damaged the short line, shippers got a good idea of what losing rail services would mean.
"Our shippers have reported that it cost them $1,400 to ship by truck what would have cost them $500 to ship by rail. Because of the significant cost disadvantage to truck transport, two shippers, Trask River Lumber and Tillamook Lumber, said they would be forced to close their plants and relocate to the Willamette Valley if the rail line was not repaired."
Linda Smith, Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad