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Storm caused $20M damage to Tillamook railroad

02:11 PM PST on Monday, December 10, 2007

By kgw.com Staff

TILLAMOOK, Ore. -- Crews were assessiing an estimated $20 million in damage to the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad as the damaged line set back some are businesses Monday.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Newton/NW Media Consultants

The damaged Tillamook Railroad.

The damage forced Port officials to curtail outbound shipments of lumber and inbound shipments of grains for local dairy farmers.

Tillamook Valley Nutrition manager Troy Odvody said the closure had "quite a big impact," on the area grain shipments.

Crews on Monday were cutting away hundreds of trees that littered the tracks.

“The Port has issued a temporary embargo and informed all of our railroad customers and others we work with that we will not be able to ship or receive railcars on our line for the time being,” said Port of Tillamook Bay Port Director Robert Van Borssum.

Van Borssum said that immediately after the massive storm, his crews headed out to inspect the line. The worst of the damage seen so far involves a section of railroad track in Salmonberry Canyon, east of Wheeler, in the Coast Range.

Background: Storm brought disaster, death

“The good news is that all of our metal bridges are still upright and our tunnels appear to be intact,” he said.

However, on Thursday, workers discovered that soil slippage in Salmonberry Canyon had undermined a section of track roadbed, causing the track to sag and become unusable.

Van Borssum said workers are still inspecting track and assessing the situation.

“We don’t have the complete picture yet,” he explained, “but the port determined that it would be prudent to issue an embargo now so no customers would have their cargo lost in transit. The Port can rescind the embargo anytime in the future when we have the problems under control.”

The Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad operates 95 miles of track that stretches from Tillamook into the western suburbs of Portland, where the line intersects with major north-south rail lines. The route includes 17 metal bridges, several tunnels and a number of wooden bridges.

The Port’s railroad is the major shipping lifeline for Tillamook County’s two major lumber mills.