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Rail News: Intermodal

Freight access project near final stages at Washington state port; intermodal project near environmental review phase at California ports

The final elements of the decade-long, $275 million West Vancouver Freight Access Project (WVFA) are set to enter the construction phase at the Port of Vancouver USA.

Under a $1.6 million contract approved by the Washington state port's commissioners last month, Railworks Track Systems will complete the last pieces of work necessary to make a new rail entrance fully operational. Anticipated to start in December, the work involves realigning a 500-foot-long section of track between Esther and Grant streets, constructing a double track from Esther Street to the new rail entrance and installing new main track.

"We're very close to completion of a project that will reduce rail congestion by 40 percent and help ensure our region’s businesses can compete in the global market," said Brian Wolfe, a port commissioner, in a press release.

The WVFA began in the early 2000s as a way to address rail congestion via a new entrance. Since then, 20 projects have been added, increasing the cost of overall improvements to an estimated $275 million. Completion initially was anticipated in 2017.

"Thanks to careful planning and competitive bids received during the recession, the port now expects to deliver the project as early as 2015 and several million dollars under the estimated cost," port officials said.

WVFA was funded as dollars became available from a number of sources, including state and federal grants, tenant investments and a contribution from BNSF Railway Co.

"A decade ago, pinch points were squeezing our customers and they struggled to keep their cargoes moving, keep their businesses competitive. Now, we have more than triple the rail capacity, giving our tenants and customers room to grow," said Todd Coleman, the port's chief executive officer.

Meanwhile, the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility Joint Powers Authority's board (ICTF/JPA) plans to meet Dec. 10 in Long Beach, Calif., to review the preparation and future release of an environmental impact report for Union Pacific Railroad's ICTF modernization and expansion project.

The project is designed to help enhance the flow of intermodal cargo through the ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles. The 148-acre ICTF is operated by UP, which has proposed the modernization and expansion to more than double its annual throughput capacity from 725,000 to 1.5 million containers. The project would incorporate environmental improvements, including electric overhead cranes, cleaner yard tractors and ultra-low-emission locomotives.

The ICTF/JPA has released a notice of preparation/initial study that describes the project and its potential environmental impacts, which will be fully analyzed and reviewed in a draft environmental impact report that's currently being drafted.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/21/2014