Yamhill County Rail study focuses on 3 options

Plans for linking Portland to Yamhill County by rail will likely fall short of Spirit Mountain and even perhaps McMinnville. The study currently underway by Portland-based IBI Group suggests that the line may go no further than Newberg due to low ridership estimates.

Randy Knapick of IBI Group said three options are getting a serious look. They include:

  • Train service between Newberg and Beaverton, operating as a branch of Washington County’s system, with stations in Springbrook, Sherwood and Tualatin and connections at existing stations in Tigard, Beaverton and Hall/Nimbus. Rough cost estimate: $72 million.
  • Diesel light-rail service from Newberg through Sherwood and Tualatin to Lake Oswego, and then along the Willamette Trolley right-of-way to the North Macadam area of Portland. Rough cost estimate: $98 million.
  • Rail service from Newberg to Tigard, where passengers could transfer to a Tri-Met bus or a MAX train. Rough cost estimate: $59 million.

All of the alternatives would enable passengers to connect, one way or another, with the Westside Express Service system now under construction.

The three project estimates under study all come in below $100 million since the right of way is still available. However, according to one Yamhill County commissioner, current ridership estimates aren’t much higher than they were ten years ago, which may limit the project’s ability to qualify for federal funding.

Several months ago many participants of this blog expressed optimism that a Yamhill rail line would be built, perhaps even to the coast, broadening the appeal beyond a commuter and winery tour train. With a route extending no further than Newberg, does this project still stand a chance as more than just a commuter line? Will McMinnville-to-Portland Metro commuters really bus it or drive to Newberg to take a train to work?

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