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The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is seeking a freight-rail operator for a long-shuttered line in Grant and Adams counties. Interested parties must submit proposals by March 19. The chosen company will operate and maintain a 26-mile line between Othello and Royal City, a stretch of track known as the "Royal Slope Railroad." In addition, the operator "will be tasked with creating an innovative economic development plan designed to provide competitive rail service for the region's rail shipping community," WSDOT officials said in a press release.The track has been out of service for the past 16 years, but WSDOT expects operations on the line to resume in May. Last year, the Port of Royal Slope hired a contractor to refurbish and upgrade the line.The Royal Slope Railroad is the only rail route that serves the area, and a number of potential industrial and commercial businesses chose not to locate in the region due to the lack of rail service while some current businesses would use rail if it were available, according to the port."We're back in business thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Washington State Legislature," said Port of Royal Slope Commissioner Alan Schrom.Rail is critical to keeping both freight and Washington's economy moving, and short lines are an important part of the state's rail network, WSDOT officials said.
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