Portland to Vancouver, WA

The Two Main Track, CTC, BNSF (ex-NP) route is divided into the following subdivisions:

·        Fallbridge subdivision from Portland to Vancouver [and Wishram]

Portland Union Station (MP 0.0) has two island platforms, with a track on the east side, two tracks between them, and a track on the west side, and a major depot on the west side of the station, west of all the tracks. Access to the island platforms is by means of a paved area that crosses the tracks on the level. There is a pedestrian bridge over the platforms and tracks to the south of the depot and a major road bridge (Philadelphia Avenue) over the platforms and tracks just north of the depot.

Northwest of Portland Union Station, the two main track CTC-controlled line crosses Hoyt Street/9th Avenue at grade. In the 1990s, there was a BN (later BNSF) locomotive refueling facility on the west side of the line just north of the street. The speed limit signs on this route have indications for T (Talgo), as well as P and F. There light industrial buildings across the street that runs along the east side of the line, including the Crescent Electric Supply Company just north of the grade crossing, “Flow Solutions”, Emerson Hardwood, Pacific Paper Goods, and Viking Fire Protection. I-405 and US 30 (together) cross high above the tracks and river on a magnificent concrete arched bridge. There is a grade crossing just about under the bridge, a signal bridge across the tracks, and a road bridge angles overhead.

Heading northwest, the line runs alongside a string of mills and grain silos along the west bank of the Willamette, some of them rail-served such as Georgia-Pacific and the extensive Gunderson warehouses, followed by a mover’s trucking yard. There are yard tracks in Lake Yard to the west side of the line, passing crossovers at Lake Yard (MP 2.0), a road bridge overhead, a grade crossing, and then a petrochemical facility on the east side, with more crossovers at Willbridge (MP 4.3), with Willbridge Yard alongside to the west and the “Willbridge Phil” tank farm on the east side, between the line and the river. At Willbridge, the line turns northeast at a wye with the Portland & Western line to Astoria (ex-SP&S) continuing northwest. At the through truss Willamette River Draw Bridge (MP 5.1), the line crosses that river on a high bridge to its east bank, and passes above a UP line running along the east bank of the river to the docks area. Almost this whole segment of line is restricted to speeds of 35 mph and below (for freights), slightly higher for passenger trains.

There is a road bridge high overhead, four yard tracks on the west side of the two main tracks. A road runs parallel on the west side, with a cement plant on the east side. Another road bridge passes overhead, and the extra tracks on the west side reduce to one, and then to none, another road bridge passes overhead, there is a lumber yard to the west and a petrochemical or water treatment plant to the east, and the line crosses over a river channel. At East St. Johns (MP 7.0), where the speed limit is 70-50 (passenger/freight), there are crossovers and a connecting line northwestward (on a wye junction) down to another UP line passing below. At North Portland Junction (MP 8.1) there are more crossovers and the UP connection coming in from the south (east), a joint BNSF/UP line departing to the northwest, and a spur departing to the east, with three or four extra tracks alongside, down to Flora Avenue. There are industrial plants to the east and west on a small stretch of harbor-area land, the line crosses over a spur west from Flora Avenue, crosses over the through truss Oregon Slough Draw Bridge (MP 8.8), crosses an island, and then crosses the through truss Columbia River Draw Bridge (MP 9.6) into Vancouver, Washington (MP 9.9). The speed across the drawbridges is 30 mph for all trains.

There is a huge grain elevator on the north river bank to the west of the bridge, with a smaller grain elevator and pier to the east. The ex-SP&S line along the north bank of the Columbia to Pasco and Spokane leaves to the east at the Vancouver depot while the ex-NP Seattle line continues northward. The Vancouver depot is in the wye between the Seattle and Pasco lines, east of the former and north of the latter. The major yard along this route is at Vancouver, alongside the Seattle line’s east side north of the depot.