All aboard! Benton County seeks public input on Bailey Branch rail line

All aboard! Benton County seeks public input on Bailey Branch rail line

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Benton County wants the public's input on how to manage a rail corridor the county bought last year.

Public forums on the Bailey Branch rail line are scheduled in July in Corvallis and Monroe.

Monroe: Tuesday, July 8, 3 to 6:30 p.m. map gallery and 6:30 to 8 p.m. facilitated meeting at the Monroe Public Library, 380 North Fifth St. (Highway 99W)

Corvallis: Thursday, July 10, 3 to 6:30 p.m. map gallery and 6:30 to 8 p.m. facilitated meeting at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, 645 NW Monroe Ave.

The county purchased the corridor – which stretches from south of Corvallis to Monroe, with a spur stretching out to Dawson to the west, as well – late last year for the purpose of preserving that corridor for potential future rail use, should the need arise.

Now the county is evaluating short- and long-term strategies for managing the rail line. The county said most suggestions so far fall into the following five options:
 

  • Railroad Use Only: Preserve and manage the corridor, as determined necessary and feasible, to only allow for future restoration of freight, passenger or excursion rail;
     
  • Develop Trails: Develop and manage walking, biking or riding trails within the highest priority locations of the corridor;
     
  • Maintain Current Condition and Uses: Complete minimal maintenance and existing public uses within the corridor;
     
  • Transfer of Corridor Location: Exchange the railroad corridor land ownership with private landowners, for equal land area that is in closer proximity to the current public right-of-way; and
     
  • Selling, Leasing, Granting Easements and Authorizing Work: Evaluate and complete sales or agreements where requested by adjacent landowners and other organizations.


The Bailey Branch Rail Corridor Management Strategy will help guide current and future decision-makers regarding uses for the corridor that benefit the public, the county said. It will contain a detailed inventory of the property and identify issues as well as options and recommendations for potential long- and short-term uses of the corridor.

Comments can be submitted to the Benton County Board of Commissioners, ATTN: Rick Osborn, 205 NW Fifth St., Corvallis, OR 97330. Comments also can be submitted by email to rick.osborn@co.benton.or.us.

A website about the strategy development – complete with updated PDFs of pertinent documents, contact information to submit comments and a sign-up for an electronic newsletter on this topic – is available at http://www.co.benton.or.us/boc/bailey_branch.php.