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Local transportation projects vie for funding

WHITE CITY — A $170,000 upgrade on the Rogue Valley Terminal Railroad Corp. short line is among five regional transportation projects ConnectOregon VI is considering.

The proposed project would improve three track switches, 1,000 feet of rail and replace 150 wood ties in and around Western Emulsions and Boise Cascade plants to accommodate 143-ton rail cars that are heavier and more efficient than present cars.

Proposals will be screened at a Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 10, at the Oregon Department of Transportation offices, 100 Antelope Road.

The 2015-2021 capital improvement cycle provides $5.18 million for projects benefiting Oregon’s multimodal transportation system. Local entities provide varying amounts toward the work or purchase.

Among the project's other components to be reviewed are a $7.15 million project to rehabilitate Taxiway A at the Medford airport, with a grant request of $446,666; Emergency power generators for the Josephine County airports in Merlin and Cave Junction, costing $179,000 and needing $137,900 from the state; a $1 million foot and bicycle bridge across Bear Creek that seeks a $700,000 contribution.

Rogue Valley Transportation District seeks $400,000 toward a $1.1 million passenger farebox collection system and solar project. The 21-year-old farebox system relies on manual input by drivers, verifying paper passes and fare tokens. The current hardware and software are obsolete and expensive to maintain. RVTD also seeks to install a solar energy system on its maintenance building.

ConnectOregon dates to 2005, with lottery bond-based grants invested in air, rail, marine, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Public, private and nonprofit entities may apply for grants covering up to 70 percent of project costs. ConnectOregon V grants ranged from $15,926 to $7.9 million; the average was $2 million.

 Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.