Travelers going to and from Central Oregon by train are temporarily out of luck, as the Amtrak Coast Starlight route between Seattle and Sacramento, California, has been suspended.
The route was shut down Saturday due to a damaged bridge near Redding, California, an Amtrak news release said. The route is expected to reopen in mid-May.
The closest Amtrak stop to Bend is in Chemult, which is about an hour south on U.S. Highway 97. As a result of the closure, HighDesert POINT buses running from Redmond and Bend to the Chemult station have also been suspended, an Oregon Department of Transportation news release said.
Buses will still depart from Bend and Redmond, but rather than stopping in Chemult, they will go all the way to Klamath Falls, where travelers can access the SouthWest POINT bus going to Medford, Grants Pass and Brookings.
David Richardson, owner of the R & D Market in Chemult, said he gets customers who are in town for the train. However, he wasn’t aware of the closure.
“I don’t see much difference right now, but it would be better now than in June or July,” he said, adding that summer brings in hoards of tourists visiting nearby Crater Lake National Park.
The departure times for buses leaving Bend and Redmond are also being altered, said Shelley Snow, spokesperson for ODOT. Previously, departures were scheduled so buses would arrive in sync with the Coast Starlight train. Those departures now are in time with the SouthWest POINT bus in Klamath Falls.
Efforts to reach an Amtrak spokesperson for more detailed information on when the Coast Starlight will resume were unsuccessful. Snow said mid-May is the most up-to-date information she has received.
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