Port of Tillamook Bay Support for Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, Rails AND Trails Concept

“Port of Tillamook Bay (POTB) has always been, and continues to be totally supportive of Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad (OCSR). This has always been a Rails AND Trails development. OCSR is a valuable and unique asset to Tillamook County.” – Michele Bradley, General Manager, Port of Tillamook Bay

“The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad is a beloved and growing local organization. It offers visitors a unique experience and brings vital economic activity to Tillamook County. The Salmonberry Trail presents an equally inspiring vision of a world-class trail experience connecting our coastal communities to the Willamette Valley. The trail will bring additional economic activity and contribute to the livability of our communities. I aim for win-win solutions, and I believe that we are stronger working together. Throughout the trail planning process and the negotiation of the STIA lease, I have been committed to building a path forward that allows both rails and trails to thrive.” – Jack Mulder, Port of Tillamook Bay Commissioner

Q&A:
“Is the Port giving up control of their land/railroad right of way to the Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency (STIA)?”
• Through the Railbanking process, completed in fall of 2017, STIA has accepted all liability for the railroad right of way. This trail agreement puts management of the right of way back to the Port which will continue to manage the existing and new agreements, and the Port will keep the revenue from the agreements. This includes existing agreements for crossings, encroachments, and other uses, such as underground utilities (water/sewer/fiber optic/cable/Stormwater). Underground utilities will not affect the trail and are not subject to STIA review – either existing or future.
• The Port board and staff have been actively engaged with our legal team to get to this point – almost two years of negotiations. The board has discussed the major points leading to changes in the draft agreement. This holds true for both the Port and STIA.

“Does the STIA have power/control over future leases?”
• To some degree, yes. STIA and its partners intend to raise tens of millions of dollars to build the proposed Salmonberry Trail. If STIA has concern for any future agreements that might conflict with the Trail Concept Plan, those items will be discussed. The process is clearly outlined in the STIA agreement.
• That said, automatically renewed agreements that do not conflict will not need to be looked at by STIA – this would be access to houses, the fiber optic cable agreement, water and sewer utilities, etc.. Also, new or amended agreements that do not impact the trail would not be affected.
• As an example, in one location along the railroad, a house built in the 1930’s was built partially in the railroad right-of-way. In this case, STIA will design the trail to avoid the house. The homeowner would not be forced to remove a portion of their house because of the trail. Additionally, as with most of the agreements, this agreement auto-renews each year and is not limited to a specific term (ex. 10, 15, 25 year term). It does not need to be renegotiated or amended to continue. The fiber optic lease also has an auto-renewal clause.

How does this affect the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad?
• The OCSR agreement ends in 2027 with four years left on the second term, and a renewal option for a five-year third term. However, this will only happen if OCSR is in compliance with the current agreement and is not in default for any issues, such as an environmental violation. Any default issue would have to be resolved per their current agreement “cure” period. If not, the current agreement would be in jeopardy.
• OCSR and the Port have discussed renegotiation of the OCSR operating agreement, and these discussions are continuing.
• If the OCSR agreement is amended or renegotiated, then yes, STIA will be able to review and discuss their concerns, as the changes to the agreement might conflict with the trail plan. The Salmonberry Trail Concept Plan presents both rail with trail and rail to trail options, and work by the Salmonberry Trail Coastal Segment Advisory Committee prioritized rail with trail solutions for the early years of trail catalyst projects. These include sections of trail beside the rail in Wheeler, Rockaway Beach, Garibaldi, Bay City, and especially in the beautiful Garibaldi to Barview section that is critical to both the OCSR and the Salmonberry Trail. More work will need to be done in the future to coordinate rail and trail on these and other sections of the right of way.