Groups ink contract, set milestones for rail project

Malheur County Economic Development officials were in conversations in June with Cryo-Trans regarding providing refrigerated cars, such as those seen here, to ship product from the proposed Treasure Valley Reload Center.

NYSSA — A contract outlining the timelines for the planning, design and construction of the Treasure Valley Reload Center has been signed by the Malheur County Development Corporation and the Oregon Department of Transportation, allowing the project to move ahead. The document was signed Tuesday, according to Greg Smith, who is project manager.

The project includes construction of a trainload facility where agriculture commodities, and possibly other commodities, will be brought in by trucks to reloaded on to rail cars for shipments across the United States.

The time frame outlined in the contract, goes from December to the projected completion in June of 2022.

Within that time, there will be a land purchase of about 65 acres to accommodate the reload center. In addition, there will be surveying, permitting, a variety of professional services, plus environmental clearances, bidding and finally construction.

As planned, the reload center will include a nearly 60,000 square foot warehouse to receive, to store and to ship out commodities. It will also house offices, all related equipment and a staging area for delivery trucks.

Other improvements at the site north of Nyssa will include access roads, improvements to existing roads, installation of truck scales, installation of water, sewer and other utilities and other improvements, as needed.

For the rail portion, there will be improvements for an interchange with Union Pacific Railroad operations that will entail the addition of tracks to allow cars being switched to clear the mainline and not block trains. These will include working tracks for the reload center, storage tracks, turnouts and switches.

According to the contract the first group of milestones, which are to be completed in December, have to do with scoping and planning. This includes completion of the preliminary project plans and railroad approval of 30% signal design showing the mileposts for proposed switches.

The second set of milestones, which are to be done by the end of January include the land acquisition. This will be followed by completion of the final plan design to be submitted for state and railroad approval to be done by September of 2020, with final agreements on construction, use, operations and maintenance to be signed by the end of October of 2020.

Construction is scheduled to begin in January of 2021.

In House Bill 2017, the Oregon Legislature appropriated $26 million for the reload center funds which will be allocated in steps as the project moves along and approved by ODOT.

For the near term, project manager Greg Smith said he will be working with banks to set up a line of credit to help cover the ongoing costs up front, negotiating with a potential operator of the facility and completing contracts with site and rail layout designers to complete that work.

Larry Meyer is a news reporter at The Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4813 or by emailing larrym@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com.

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