Many SE Portlanders are familiar with the wait that has become common in the Central Eastside when trains are blocking the tracks.
This regularly occurs at SE 12th Ave., SE 11th Ave. and SE 8th Ave. with documented wait times from 45-90 minutes. Trains can also be found blocking traffic between Stark and Salmon.
The situation has gotten worse recently as Union Pacific Railroad changed their operations, tripling the length of their trains earlier this year.
The average train is now over three miles long, and a stoppage in one area may affect multiple streets that must cross the tracks.
The Central Eastside Industrial Council, Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood Association (HAND) and the Brooklyn Neighborhood have created a petition asking that the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) make these main arterials through Portland a priority by addressing the blockages.
The blockages are not only frustrating, but they impose major safety risks as cars maneuver around the blockages by going down streets the wrong way and speeding through nearby neighborhoods.
The Bob Stacey Crossing helps alleviate the situation for pedestrians and cyclists near the 11th/12th Ave. crossing, but it is the only such crossing in the Central Eastside.
Buses are impacted by blockages too, with TriMet’s #2 and #70 bus lines regularly being rerouted. The new Division Transit Project, whose goal is to cut down on commute times from East Portland, will likely have to be rerouted regularly as well.
Vehicles idling generate increased carbon emissions and economic development is hindered near the tracks, with a ripple effect of slow freight movement across the city.
Freight transportation is important to our region and a pending federal infrastructure bill could pay for improvements along the rail line. In order to leverage federal funding, however, PBOT must back an improvement program, make the issue a top regional priority and conduct a study to identify short and long-term improvements.
Interested in supporting this push for change? Sign the petition at bit.ly/TrainPetition.