Mosier pushes back against rail expansion

Union Pacific wants to build a second track in Mosier. (KATU File Photo)

After an oil train derailment caused a massive fire people, in Mosier are preparing to fight against a proposed rail expansion in their town.

"This derailment really woke people up to the fact that this is a real issue and it's on the doorstep," said Mosier Mayor Arlene Burns.

Union Pacific is looking to add a second track to a four lane stretch of rails in Mosier. The company says it needs the extra line to avoid a bottleneck.

On Sept. 6 the company is scheduled to argue in front of the Wasco County Planning Commission for the rail expansion. People in Mosier fear they're being railroaded and their safety is being put at risk.

"It's pretty daunting and of course our big concern is if this whole area becomes a super highway for fossil fuels," Burns said.

Friends of the Columbia Gorge questioned the specifics laid out in Union Pacific's proposal, so they put it to the test.

The advocacy group hired two rail experts to study what an increase in capacity would mean to rail traffic in Mosier.

Union Pacific had said it would add "5 to 7" rail cars a day, currently around 25 a day go through the town.

Steve McCoy, with Friends of the Columbia Gorge, says the study found as many as 50 more trains could move along the Columbia River as a result of the second rail line.

"Obviously (Union Pacific) needs to maintain their track signal and equipment better," McCoy said. "We would like to see them do that maintenance rather than do this double track through Mosier."

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