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Improvements to a state-owned rail line would help Washington farmers get their goods to market faster and benefit the state's economy, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) concluded in a new report.Finalized last month, the Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) Rail System Strategic Plan was developed to help shape future funding, policy and planning goals for the state-owned rail system, a 297-rail line that consists of three branch lines used to carry freight through Spokane, Lincoln, Grant and Whitman counties.The strategic plan lists $58 million in recommended maintenance projects and policies to boost farm-to-market rail transportation, WSDOT officials said in a press release.The projects are designed to:• increase the capacity to handle 286,000-pound rail cars;• rehabilitate track in moderate to sharp curves to allow for increased speeds; and• identify and replace defective rails through integrity testing.The rail system connects eastern Washington to the larger freight transportation system and global gateways of the international commodities market. In 2013, the rail line carried 20 percent of state-grown wheat.Developed with the PCC Rail Authority, the plan includes comments and suggestions from the public.
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