Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad hopes to relocate what’s left of its Roseburg operations to Winchester, a move that city officials say could spur downtown redevelopment.
The company, which operates a freight line between Northern California and Eugene, has applied for a ConnectOregon grant to pay 70 percent of the $4.9 million cost of an office and locomotive repair shop off Del Rio Road.
The railroad moved its switching yard there in 2010, leaving behind only its office on Southeast Mosher Avenue.
City Manager Lance Colley said it could be easier to attract businesses to the seven-acre site if CORP moves.
“We are hoping if they get this grant and move forward with this project; (it) might allow in the future for redevelopment of the current site,” Colley said Monday.
CORP’s assistant vice president of government affairs, Patrick Kerr, said today the company is considering selling the property.
“We will work with the city to find a good use for it,” Kerr said. “Maybe there’s a partnership to work out or something. There’s a lot of opportunities.”
Roseburg and the Douglas County Industrial Development Board wrote letters to the Oregon Transportation Commission in support of CORP’s application.
The state board is scheduled to make a decision this summer.
In its letter, the industrial development board said that the funding would be an investment in rail freight transportation in Southern Oregon.
By moving the switching yard to Winchester, CORP reduced the amount of time trains block crossings in Roseburg. A ConnectOregon grant funded the $8 million project.
“Since they have moved, it’s been a benefit to the core area to not have the trains be backing up. People are more comfortable knowing when the are going downtown (that) they won’t be held up by a train,” Colley said.
The larger switching yard has boosted business for the railroad, Kerr said.
“We went from 140 cars to almost 300 in capacity,” he said. “It’s been really good for us, the community and our customers.”
Kerr said an 18,000-square-foot building for repairing locomotives would take the place of a facility in Eugene. He said Winchester has the advantage of being centrally located between Eugene and Medford.
Kerr said CORP would begin construction next year if awarded the grant.
CORP is a subsidiary of Genesee &Wyoming Inc., North America’s largest owner and operator of short line and regional freight railroads.
•You can reach reporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.