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The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is seeking proposals from qualified parties to manage and operate the state-owned P&L Branch of the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad.The branch begins outside of BNSF Railway Co.'s yard in Marshall and continues southeastward to Palouse and Pullman, and then to the Idaho border. WSDOT's ownership of the branch line ends at the state line.The chosen operator will work with WSDOT, local governments, economic development authorities, shippers and Class Is, department officials said in a request for proposals notice."The goal is to develop innovative and efficient operating and shipping methods, and [make] improvements that provide competitive rail service for the region's rail shipping community and sustain the operator financially," they said.All interested parties must first submit a letter of intent to WSDOT by March 15. Proposals are due April 5.WSDOT plans to announce the apparent successful proposal on April 29. The selected operator is expected to start freight-rail service on the branch line July 8.
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