LRL in mix for tunnel project

COOS BAY — LRL Construction Co. of Tillamook is the low bidder on a tunnel-repair project on the Coos Bay Rail Line that has been closed since September 2007.

The Port of Coos Bay Commission authorized Executive Director Jeffrey Bishop to work out contract details with LRL, which submitted a $1,732,648 bid. The deal is subject to final review by the Federal Highway Administration and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The project is expected to get final approval by the end of this month, with construction to begin in July. Construction, near Noti, is expected to take six months. However, completion won't signal the 111-mile line's return to operation.

"There is other repair work that needs to be done," said Donna Nichols, the port's director of finance and administration. "Because it's been closed so long there are lot of trees and debris on the tracks."

All told, the port anticipates it will take $10 million to $14 million to reopen the track, which has been idled since the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad embargoed operations. In November, the Surface Transportation Board cleared the way for the port to acquire the line.

All of the other repair bids were in excess of $2 million. Drill Tech Drilling and Shoring Inc. of Antioch, Calif., bid $2,054,050, while a Lebanon, N.J., firm and a San Leandro, Calif., company submitted bids of more than $2.3 million.

Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad also ceased operation between Weed, Calif., and Ashland.

The Coos Siskiyou Shippers Coalition is fighting to get service restored but has been mired in legal action with RailAmerica, the parent company.

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