Friday, February 12, 2010

Moses Lake Wash., seeks funding to acquire rail segment

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At a recent meeting, the Moses Lake, Wash., City Council unanimously approved sending letters to lawmakers requesting federal funding to purchase a segment (Segment 4) of the Columbia Basin Railroad line that runs through the City of Moses. As part of the Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project, Segment 4 is slated to be vacated once a new bypass segment (Segment 1) northeast of Moses Lake is built.

 

In particular, the Port of Moses Lake eventually plans to construct Segment 1 which would detour around the city between Wheeler and Parker Horn and would be used to haul cargo to and from companies located near the Grant County International Airport, such as Moses Lake Industries, a high-tech chemical company which exports products all over the world.

 

The City of Moses Lake plans to send letters requesting funding for Segment 4 to U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Representative Doc Hastings, R-Wash.

The Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project is a critical economic development and freight mobility project in Washington State that will have the following positive benefits to the region. It will extend and enhance railroad access to vital industries in the Northern Columbia Basin area.

A new rail segment (Segment 2) would be constructed to extend rail service to the Industrial Park on the east side of the Grant County International Airport. A new rail segment (Segment 1) would be constructed from the Grant County International Airport to Wheeler (near I-90). An existing rail segment (Segment 3) would be refurbished and improved.

It will greatly improve freight mobility and economic development opportunities in the Northern Columbia Basin area. It will eliminate at least 12 at-grade rail crossings within the City of Moses Lake, and open up water front property for trails and other tourism developments.

An existing rail segment (Segment 4) would be converted into a trail.

Moses Lake City Councilmember Bill Ecret explained that the City of Moses Lake wants to purchase Segment 4 of the rail line to gain access to waterfront for both possible private and public development and to expand the city's trails and paths. Once the Segment 1 rail line is complete, the line running from Parker Horn through Neppel Park in the city will no longer be needed for rail use due to the detour.

The rail company and the city discussed working together to complete the project during the last city council meeting.

If the city is able to obtain federal funding, the funding could be used for the purchase of Segment 4, as well as to help the Port of Moses Lake construct the detour (Segment 1). The rail company would continue to use the line (Segment 4) running through the city until there is enough funding for the Port of Moses Lake to build Segment 1.

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