North Marion communities have a chance to weigh in on an ambitious rail project that would link the Columbia River and Eugene-Springfield area over the next 20 years.

Leaders of the Oregon Passenger Rail project will be hosting a series of community meetings starting next week to solicit input on the 125-mile project.

This could be one of the more important opportunities for local citizens to make their voices heard.

The project is in the evaluation phase of considering which of four different lines would best serve the goal of creating inter-city rail service that is the most efficient and has the least environmental impact.

Make no mistake — there is no guarantee Woodburn will get a station. The city could, in fact, get left with additional high-speed trains connecting metro to metro with Woodburn only an afterthought.

But the opportunity remains for one of three alternatives — the I-5 corridor, the existing downtown Amtrak Cascades line and a freight line west of Woodburn — to produce a station for the city.

Which of these is most likely to be successful and produce the economic development city leaders are counting on?

That is still under discussion, but residents of Woodburn and surrounding communities need to make their voices heard in community meetings set to start next week.

While Woodburn is still in the running for a station, no open house is scheduled to take place here. Instead, citizens must either travel to other cities to attend meetings in person or go online at to have their voices heard.

This is a critical opportunity and it is our sense that the communities that speak loudest are the ones that will get the best results.

In Corvallis, local residents showed support last week for a station by presenting a document with 1,852 signatures to the city council.

The council then passed a resolution in support of the project, adding an amendment to include the city as part of it.

It would take a collaborative effort not only by Woodburn residents and city leaders, but also residents and leaders from other north Marion County communities to show ODOT that demand is here for a station.

Otherwise, this opportunity, like trains along the Amtrak-Cascades line, will just pass the communities by.

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