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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Feds approve environmental analysis for Washington state port rail project


The Northern Columbia Basin Rail Project in Washington state recently received long-awaited environmental documentation approval from the Federal Railroad Administration, the Port of Moses Lake announced in late June.
The work calls for creating a rail connection to the port by building 4.5 miles of track along the Wheeler Industrial Corridor and linking it to a Columbia Basin Railroad line near Moses Lake. Other associated track will be upgraded, modernized or rerouted, and another 3 miles will be built to access industrial land adjacent to Grant County International Airport.

The project received $20.9 million in state funding in 2015 and $9.9 million in federal funding — via a FASTLANE grant — in 2016. The federal government added a requirement to update the project’s environmental analysis before releasing the grant funds.

That update, along with a public comment solicitation and technical review, took nearly three years to complete, port officials said in a press release.
“[We are] relieved to finally receive federal approval to move forward with this project. Several years ago, the community joined together to support this plan because of the opportunities it creates for our region and the benefits to the city of Moses Lake,” said Port of Moses Lake Commission President Stroud Kunkle.

Now, the port and project partners need to reach an agreement with the federal agencies on a proposed staged implementation plan, initiate appraisals and acquire right of way along the corridor before construction can begin, he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/6/2020