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Federal Railroad Administrator Tells DeFazio Agency Will Inspect Embargoed Rail Line

Oct 3, 2007
Press Release

October 3, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) today announced that the Federal Railroad Administrator, Joseph Boardman, has agreed to have his agency perform a physical inspection of the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) line between Coquille, Oregon and Vaughn, Oregon to evaluate what, if any, repairs are necessary to make the line safe for operation. CORP cited unsafe tunnel conditions as its reason to immediately close the line.

—Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) today announced that the Federal Railroad Administrator, Joseph Boardman, has agreed to have his agency perform a physical inspection of the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) line between Coquille, Oregon and Vaughn, Oregon to evaluate what, if any, repairs are necessary to make the line safe for operation. CORP cited unsafe tunnel conditions as its reason to immediately close the line.

CORP gave no advance notice that it would be shutting down this critical line leaving shippers without a viable way to get their goods to market. Georgia-Pacific subsequently announced it is stopping operations at its Coos Bay sawmill and laid off 120 workers indefinetly saying the stoppage is related to CORP's embargo of this line.

DeFazio personally discussed CORP's sudden closure of the line with the U.S. Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters, and FRA Administrator Boardman. The FRA is evaluating CORP's recent engineering reports and agreed to conduct a physical inspection of the line next week. The FRA has had this CORP line under compliance review since December 2005 after deciding the railroad was inadequately maintaining and inspecting its tracks. The FRA last inspected the line in October 2006.

While there were known problems with the line, CORP never communicated with its customers or the Oregon Department of Transportation that the line had deteriorated so badly that an emergency closure might be necessary.