Rep. DeFazio hosts passenger rail roundtable at School of Art and Design downtown studios

On August 26, U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio convened a roundtable of Lane County-area decision makers along with state and federal officials to discuss the status and needs of the Amtrak Cascades passenger rail service along the I-5 corridor between Eugene and Portland. The event was held at UO’s new College of Design School of Art and Design’s research studios downtown near the Eugene Amtrak station. The tracks are owned by Union Pacific and their representatives joined the meeting.

Senior Associate Vice President for Research Cass Moseley welcomed participants and spoke to the benefits to the University of Oregon from frequent and reliable rail service. Following the roundtable, Interim Dean of the College of Design Laura Vandenburgh led attendees on a tour of the newly renovated 510 Oak building.

The group discussed topics including the Cascade’s on-time performance, infrastructure needs, and other performance challenges. Roundtable participants included State Representatives Nancy Nathanson and Marty Wilde, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, and Lane County Commissioner Heather Buch. Union Pacific officials noted that discussions are already underway with the Oregon Department of Transportation and Amtrak about managing conflicts between freight and passenger rail service during the 2021 Track and Field World Championships.

Frequent, reliable and timely Amtrak service between Eugene and points north is a long held institutional priority for the University of Oregon and local governments. UO faculty, students and staff use both Amtrak rail and bus service frequently. The growing relationship between UO and OHSU faculty and researchers will continue to continue to increase the demand for the ability to travel quickly and dependably between Portland and Eugene, alleviating the need to contend with I-5 traffic. Dave Reesor, UO Director of Parking and Transportation Services, joined the meeting and manages Amtrak’s access to campus for its daily bus service.