Rail facility could be operational by 2020

By Les Zaitz

The Enterprise

NYSSA – The Treasure Valley Reload Center, designed to speed local produce more profitability to East Coast markets, would be up and running north of Nyssa by mid-2020 under an aggressive schedule shared last week with state officials.

The Malheur County Development Corp. disclosed more details about the rail shipping center as it asked the state for $1.3 million to keep the project moving. The corporation is a public company set up by Malheur County officials to oversee the industrial project.

The corporation said construction on the 70,000-square-foot loading plant could start in about a year.

“This schedule is very aggressive, and assumes the work begins in earnest in early January 2018 and can proceed aggressively,” the corporation said in its application to the Oregon Transportation Commission. The commission has authority to release $26 million set aside by the Oregon Legislature for the Malheur County project, and local officials are seeking what is essentially start-up money.

The development corporation outlines the business case for building in Malheur County. The prime selling point is that onion producers now must truck their loads to Wallula, Wash., to a rail shipping center there. The onions are loaded on special trains for the trip east – which includes passing back through Malheur County.

“This inefficient transportation system is a 403+ mile round-trip for local shippers, adding transportation costs that limit competitiveness in a low-profit margin section of Oregon’s economy,” the application said.

The corporation said the Treasure Valley Reload Center might also ship beef and other local products destined for the east.

The start-up money requested from the state would fund a market analysis, surveying, engineering, land use approvals and an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad.

The corporation said the Nyssa site was picked because it was centrally located, accessible from several highways, is adjacent to a rail line, and can be served Nyssa city water and sewer lines. Electrical power and natural gas lines are nearby, the application said.

The reload center would go on one of three properties that the development corporation has tentatively agreed to buy.

“Approximately 400 acres of developable land will help make the TVRC a success in the short and long term, and provide room for economic development opportunities,” the application said.

The development corporation has been busy organizing itself and bringing on board professional help. The board, appointed by the Malheur County Court, includes Grant Kitamura, Lynn Findley, Jim Farmer, Jeremy Leathers, Corey Maag, Toni Parish, John Qualls, Kay Riley, and Greg Smith.

The corporation has retained the engineering firm of Anderson Perry & Associates Inc., a regional company that has done work on the reload facility in Wallula.

The development corporation also has brought on the Ontario law firm Yturri Rose to handle legal matters.