The Albina Rail Yard is a unique generational opportunity to redefine downtown Portland and improve connectivity between the Central Eastside Industrial Corridor and the rest of the city. Located on the east bank of the Willamette River and north of the Fremont Bridge, the Albina Rail Yard is disproportionately sized to accommodate the length of freight trains in this day in age.

In addition to physical connectivity, the importance of visual connectivity has also been considered as a valuable piece to tell the story of the river and formation of the city.

Brooklyn Intermodal Yard is located in southeast Portland in an urban setting that is adjacent to both industrial and residential communities. It is an intermodal freight yard that primarily consists of trailers on flatcars with some containers on flatcars. The yard is owned and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. In addition to the intermodal freight, there are carloads of liquid sugar, lumber and cement switched into trains within the yard for delivery to and from local industries. As a common carrier, Union Pacific also handles a variety of commodities that run through the yard as through-freights.

Community connectivity is a significant challenge for neighborhoods surrounding the Brooklyn Rail Yard and lines. The rail lines prevent easy pedestrian and bicycle access from one neighborhood to the next as well as to the river and downtown Portland. The Brooklyn neighborhood shares the greatest stretch of boundary with the Brooklyn Rail Yard. The Reed, Creston – Kenilworth, and Sellwood-Moreland neighborhoods also share adjacencies. The Eastmoreland and Hosford-Abernathy neighborhoods are near the rail lines to the south and north, respectively.

The most frequent complaint Union Pacific receives is noise. In particular, sounding locomotive horns at crossings is a nuisance. Though a nuisance, the horn loudness and duration are required and dictated by federal law. In addition to the horn noise, the railroad has received complaints about noise created from the coupling of cars, slack action in moving trains, idling locomotives, and back-up beepers on intermodal cranes.

Union Pacific has also received complaints from the adjacent neighborhoods for parking trains along the tracks. Neighbors complain that they are unsightly. In addition, concern has been expressed people trespassing/hopping on and off trains. This is a shared concern as Union Pacific lists trespassing by freight hoppers, those illegally crossing tracks, and joggers in the right-of-way as challenges to its safety goals.

From Union Pacific’s perspective, there is also conflict between trains departing the yard and commuters wanting to get to and from the east and west sides of the river.

There are too few grade separated crossings for commuters to use to avoid being blocked by a train. There are operational challenges to the urban setting of the Brooklyn Rail Yard. The existing Holgate Street overpass leaves only a narrow opening for tracks. Six intermodal tracks are shorter than Union Pacific would like them to be, which limits their utility.