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11/4/2004



Rail News: M&A

Washington DOT buys Watco short line's rights of way



The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently purchased the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad Inc.'s (PCC) 300 miles of right of way from The Watco Cos. Inc. for $8 million.

The short-line holding company has owned and operated PCC — which moves about 20 percent of the state's grain shipments — since 1992.

During the next eight years, WSDOT plans to spend about $22 million to improve the short line's track, which department officials believe has deteriorated. Watco will continue to operate the railroad under a 15-year operating lease agreement. The contract also requires the company to sustain and expand PCC's customer base, and maintain the short line's infrastructure while WSDOT completes its track rehabilitation plan.

During the past 18 months, WSDOT and Watco officials met farmers, community representatives and business owners along PCC's line, and assessed the short line's long-term financial viability before agreeing on the rights-of-way transaction.


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