The Future of High-Speed Rail in the Willamette Valley

Amtrak operates the Acela, a high-speed train between Boston and New York.
Faster passenger trains could make travel by rail on the
West Coast more attractive for commuters. The Oregon Department of
Transportation (ODOT) is now planning for a new 125-mile segment in the
Willamette Valley from Eugene to Portland. While neither of the two proposed
routes goes through Benton County, high-speed rail with a stop in Albany could
offer new options for mid-valley communities.
On January 13, two speakers — Jim Cox of ODOT and Linda
Modrell of the Benton County Commission — will speak about the project, the
environmental impact of developing a new rail line and possible options for
Benton County.
Amtrak’s Cascades now operates between Eugene and Seattle.

Jim Cox began working for ODOT in 1998 after seven years
with the engineering consulting firm CH2M HILL and 10 years with the U.S. Forest
Service. He managed major environmental projects for ODOT before joining the
Major Projects Branch (MPB) in 2004 as assistant branch manager. Cox has held
several roles at MPB, including managing the Design-Build Unit. He currently
serves as the Bridge Delivery Unit manager, overseeing delivery of the OTIA III
State Bridge Delivery Program, which includes the CM/GC-delivered Interstate 5
Willamette River Bridge project in Eugene-Springfield. He also manages several
passenger rail projects for the ODOT Rail Division. He holds a Bachelor of
Science degree in anthropology from the University of Oregon.

Linda Modrell was first elected to serve as Benton County
Commissioner in 1999 and was re-elected in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Before running
for elective office, she worked several years in the health-policy field,
including on the team that developed Oregon’s Health Plan. Prior to her work in
health care, Modrell was a long-term employee of Oregon State University,
working her way from secretary to become Extension’s business services
manager and then the College of Agricultural Science’s director of
administrative computing system. At OSU, Modrell earned a Master of Business
Administration (minor in community health and gerontology) and a Bachelor of
Science in accounting (minor in behavioral science). At Benton County,
Modrell’s areas of major interests include transportation, health, governance
and water issues.
City Club meets in the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys &
Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will
open at 11:30.  As always, attendance is
free. A buffet lunch will be catered by Kye Brown, chef and owner of Kyes Cuisines (  The cost is $10 for members, $12
for non-members.  To register, send e-mail
to with “City Club January 13” in the subject
line by January 10.

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