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      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

      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