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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee included in his 2023-25 budget proposal nearly $15 million for the Connell Rail Interchange project.
The Connell Rail Interchange is a key interchange in eastern Washington where the Columbia Basin rail line intersects with BNSF Railway Co.’s Lakeside Subdivision line, which runs between Spokane and Pasco. The Columbia Basin line serves Moses Lake, Wheeler, Schrag, Warden, Othello, Royal City, Bruce, and Connell in Grant, Adams and Franklin counties.
Built nearly 100 years ago, the configuration of the interchange requires upgrades approved to accommodate current and future growth in rail cargo that is flowing through Connell. Track and infrastructure design for the project has been completed, and the project is ready for construction, according to a press release from the Connell Rail Interchange Coalition.
The Inslee budget proposal follows nearly 40 letters sent by various counties, ports, cities, railroads, businesses and other entities to Inslee, state offices and legislators to asking for the state to include dollars for the project.
If approved by the state legislature, the funding would fully complete the project, coalition officials said.
The $15 million in funding includes $10 million already appropriated by the legislature in 2015 plus an additional $5 million in the 2023-25 biennium for an actual total of $14.5 million that would be available, reflecting the approximately $500,000 in funds that have already been expended for design and engineering since 2015.