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Commentaries and editorials

Development on West Hayden Island

by Glenn Laubaugh
The Oregonian, July 30, 2010

Conveniently left out of the discussion about the development of West Hayden Island are the long-running problems because of the 10 miles of railroad between Portland's Union Station and Vancouver being at capacity. Congestion issues have been so bad for so long that for many years crews have referred to this 10-mile section of track as the "Terrible 10."

While I am sure that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway would love to have the development on its railroad there, the fact is that Hayden Island is one of the worst places to add traffic on this route because adding a major port facility on the west side of the main line means trains will interrupt all traffic going in all directions as they need to switch to lines headed east, and thus run crosswise to all other traffic. Furthermore, these traffic obstructions will happen for very long periods of time, because Hayden Island is not wide enough to accommodate high-speed connections between all mainline tracks as well as the interchange to the proposed port facility.

The best solution would be for the Port of Portland to pay for a drastic expansion of the badly congested mainline, or for them to demolish the condominiums that have been built on Terminal 1 near downtown Portland and put the proposed new Port facilities there.

Unfortunately, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe currently has a surplus of track capacity across Stampede Pass into Tacoma, and the state of Washington is assisting it in improving conditions in a number of locations. This highly favors Puget Sound ports over the Portland area.

Unless the Port of Portland wakes up to the problems of traffic congestion that its poorly located interchanges pose to the connecting railroad, shipping customers most likely will continue to favor Puget Sound ports, which have better connections to cross-country lines, far fewer congestion problems, and are the subject of continuous efforts at improvement in traffic flow.

Related Pages:
It's About Time by Editorial Board, The Daily Astorian, 4/9/9
Enviros Question Dredge Spoil Dumping on West Hayden Island by Scott Learn, The Oregonian, 8/4/10
Toxic Contaminants and Their Effects on Salmonids by Morace, Johnson & Nilsen, Science Policy Exchange, 9/11/9

Glenn Laubaugh, Southeast Portland
Development on West Hayden Island
The Oregonian, July 30, 2010

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