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Amtrak studying Pioneer route return

Here’s some brighter news from Oregon.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that political leaders in eastern Oregon have convinced Amtrak to study the feasibility of a return to the Pioneer  running from Salt Lake City to Portland. The route was closed in 1997.

Warner says Amtrak would either have to build more tracks or negotiate a better deal with freight shippers.

Still, Warner hopes with enough political will, even that problem could be solved.

Fred Warner: “If it was easy, people would use it now, $4 a gallon gas makes it a real viable option now.”

That’s why Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Earl Blumenauer teamed with Republican Greg Walden.

The bipartisan delegation pushed Amtrak to study what it would take to reopen the Pioneer Route.

Amtrak says it’ll publish the report later this year.

And from there, lawmakers will  decide whether to put the Pioneer Route back on track.

Sounds like a bit of a longshot in our familiar anti-rail political climate, but this is the kind of smart infrastructure that should be a key part of the federal stimulus package. Too bad it isn’t. Some smart “steel on the ground” investments today would provide for stimulus well into tomorrow.

Filed under: Amtrak, ,

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