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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rail facility would boost Boise

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The city of Boise, Idaho, will move forward with a new study that could improve the freight rail system in the Treasure Valley, television station KTVB reports. Mayor Dave Bieter calls this a "major step forward" in Boise's economic future. If this facility is built, it will be the only one of its kind between Ogden, Utah, and Portland, Oregon. The facility would allow freight cargo to go from rail-to-truck and vice versa.

The mayor signed a letter of intent with Boise Valley Railroad to explore construction of the facility. The agreement calls for a joint feasibility study to determine the logistics and scale of the proposed facility.

It would be built on city-owned property in southeast Boise near the Winco distribution center. Bieter says the property where the facility would go is already producing some revenue but it has potential for more.

"We were able to lease it for a time for the storage of rail cars. And that produced some revenue, both to improve the rail line itself and make sure it's ready for the service we're talking about," said Bieter. "It also provided some funds for economic development. So it's been good in the last several months to able to pay us some, but this is even better because it provides services where there wasn't any."

Bieter says Boise must look to install this kind of large-scale infrastructure in order to ensure the city's economic future.

Boise Valley Railroad is a subsidiary of Watco, which operates 19 other railroads in 18 states. The railroad expects to move 770,000 tons of freight this year.

After the study is completed, it may be a few years before the facility is built. The city is estimating the building could cost upwards of $2.5 million.

The feasibility study will cost about $10,000. Bieter says most of that money will come from what the city receives for leasing a rail line to Union Pacific.