The city of Rainier has a lot to celebrate following the recent completion of its A Street Rail Safety Project. The project solved a major safety issue, improved traffic mobility and added street beautification.
“It is really going to revitalize our downtown area and make it one of the nicer downtown areas around,” said Mayor Jerry Cole, who was quoted in the local newspaper. See the video with Mayor Cole talking about the project.
“It has been long overdue but the result is something that’s going to be better for us and everyone here,” said a local business owner who was also quoted in the same newspaper article.
Any large transportation project can be complex and difficult to complete. The A Street Rail Safety Project had many issues that stood out:
- it was funded from multiple sources;
- it involved three contracts and multiple contractors;
- a railroad was a key partner;
- the project resulted in reduced street side parking;
- conversion to one way streets on each side of the rail line; and
- maintaining pedestrian access to businesses was essential.
Then, if that isn’t complex enough, add in the COVID-19 health requirements during construction.
All that considered, this project was a huge success making an eight-block section of downtown Rainier where an active Portland and Western rail line bisects the city’s main street (A Street) much safer. A Street runs parallel to busy U.S. 30 and is one of the city’s most active roads.
Rail safety was always a concern in Rainier. The Connect Oregon V program awarded $3 million to the city of Rainier to address the rail safety issue. While the operator of the rail line, Portland Western Railroad, was on board to help address the safety issues (contributing $750,000), local leaders saw an opportunity to also include mobility enhancements and address beautification and livability issues within downtown Rainier.
Funding for $11.1 million project came from 10 different sources including the Connect Oregon grant, the railroad, and $2 million from the ODOT Rail Division.
Once the funding challenges were met, the project went through a number of designs. Not surprisingly, the project was controversial from the start. It took a lot of give and take, but an acceptable design was finally approved by everyone involved.
Coming up with a strategy for construction was also a challenge since there were multiple contractors working on the rail line, city utilities and the roadway. David Evans and Associates coordinated the design and construction, and along with ODOT, were able to schedule and sequence the work so it could go as smoothly as possible.
Rainier now has a much safer and modern multi-modal downtown, a rebuilt roadway and aesthetic streetscape improvements that support the economic development of the city.