Work at the site of the Treasure Valley Reload Center could begin in the next fews months depending on action by the Oregon Transportation Commission at its next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 21.
At the Tuesday meeting of the Malheur County Development Corporation board, by phone, Greg Smith, officer to the board and county economic development director, said the proposed reload center is set to be on the commission’s agenda at which time the panel could begin approving construction dollars for the project.
While there are some agreements still being negotiated, Smith said, in talking with Oregon Department of Transportation staff, the agency is expected to be satisfied with the progress of those negotiations to allow construction to proceed.
Those agreements include the industrial track design, agreement between the shippers group and the projected reload center operator Americold, on shipping onions to four different locations around the nation and an agreement to allow any eligible commodities to be shipped, plus several others.
While the Oregon Legislature has appropriated $26 million for construction of the reload center, Smith said the release of the funds would happen when different segments of the project are completed and certain milestones are met, on a reimbursement basis from the state.
To facilitate construction, a line of credit has been established for the board to cover costs until reimbursement is approved, Smith said. Construction segments will be kept small to encourage local contractors to participate and allow quicker payments to contractors.
Project Manager Brad Baird, with Anderson Perry, said the commission gives its approval. Additionally, construction is expected to start near spring, with extensive ground preparation for the rail, structures and roads.
One cloud hanging over the project, Baird admitted, is the ever-rising costs of building materials but said those would have to be worked around.
Smith said, with the approval of the Oregon Transportation Commission, the groundwork could begin as early as April.