October 31, 2008

CORP Ordered to Sell Coos Bay Rail Line to Port

Critical Link for South Coast Preserved After Wyden Demands Action

Washington, D.C. - Responding to the persistent requests of Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) not be allowed to abandon a key rail line serving southern Oregon, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) today ruled that CORP must sell the Coos Bay line to the Port of Coos Bay.

"I am pleased that the STB has chosen to support the communities who depend on this rail line and stop CORP from pulling a fast one on our state," said Wyden. "I'll work to make sure the Port can purchase the Coos Bay line and provide southern Oregon with rail service and the economic benefits it brings."

Wyden had asked the STB to intervene in the CORP short line rail dispute in Oregon earlier this year when the owners of the line cut the line's service and requested that the state pay for rail maintenance. CORP gave only one day's notice of the shutdown, leaving many companies scrambling to find alternative ways to move their products and adjust operations. In defense of the businesses and communities served by the rail line, Wyden brought the matter to the STB's attention to ensure that CORP did not use maintenance of the line to extort money from the state.

The STB must now decide an appropriate price for the Port of Coos Bay to pay for the rail line, while the Port works to arrange financing.

In a related matter, Wyden has maintained his formal objection to the nomination of Husein Cumber to the STB. Cumber was a former fundraiser for both President George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush, whose regulatory experience in transportation is limited to two short-term political appointments at the Department of Transportation. Wyden believes that in order for the STB to make sound decisions such as those announced today, STB needs seasoned experienced professionals at the helm, not political operatives.