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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Washington short line eyes economic stimulus to help fund track upgrades


A plan to rehabilitate a Clark County, Wash., line is gaining a “groundswell of support” to obtain funding through an economic stimulus package, according to the Portland Vancouver Junction Railroad (PVJR).

The line — which runs 33 miles from a BNSF Railway Co. mainline near Vancouver to Chelatchie — has fallen into disrepair and needs refurbishment, the short line said. The project would result in immediate impacts to economic development, job creation and freight mobility in southwest Washington, PVJR believes.

In 2004, the short line signed a long-term lease with Clark County to operate the line and since has increased traffic on the 33-mile segment by more than 1,000 percent.

“There is considerable interest in locating new businesses along the line if it can be upgraded,” PVJR officials said in a prepared statement.
Recently, a number of key organizations, companies and policymakers have supported efforts to obtain economic stimulus funds for the project. The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council has included the line rehab on its list of "ready-to-go" economic stimulus projects and several state legislators sent letters to Gov. Christine Gregoire requesting that economic stimulus funding be allocated for the project.
Track upgrades would be divided into two phases. Phase 1 calls for rehabilitating track to Class 2 (25 mph) condition between Vancouver and Battle Ground; phase 2 calls for upgrading track to Class 2 condition from Battle Ground to Chelatchie.

PVJR estimates that Phase 1 and 2 would cost about $12 million and $16 million, respectively. The short line would need $6.9 million in economic stimulus funding to install rail on the first five miles of the line, and build sidings and interchanges under Phase 1.

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More News from 1/8/2009