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The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is seeking input from farmers, rail industry experts, the public and other stakeholders on ways to improve rail movements of agricultural products produced at Northwest farms.The department plans to host "PCC Rail System Strategic Plan" workshops Oct. 30 in Ephrata, Nov. 13 in Spokane and Dec. 9 in Clarkston.The state's 297-mile Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) rail system consists of three branch lines in four eastern Washington counties. Shippers in Spokane, Lincoln, Grant and Whitman counties use the system to transport their ag products. Last year, the PCC rail system carried 20 percent of state-grown wheat, reducing 37,000 truckloads from Washington roadways, WSDOT officials said in a press release.During the workshops, WSDOT officials plan to explore what improvements are needed on state-owned rail lines to enhance farm-to-market commodity movements, and what operational changes can be made to improve the rail lines' value to eastern Washington shippers and producers.The department's planning staff will consider infrastructural and operational challenges as they develop a PCC Rail System Strategic Plan in partnership with the PCC Rail Authority."Our planning staff needs … ideas and help to get our rail systems on track," said Barbara Ivanov, the director of WSDOT’s freight systems division.
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