Transportation commission approves release of construction funds for Malheur County rail center

A decision Oregon Transportation Commission Thursday will open up the funding faucet for construction of a reload facility north of Nyssa. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

UPDATE: This story has been updated with quotes from Malheur County Commissioner Ron Jacobs and information on when bids for construction are set to be released.

SALEM – Bids for construction work on the Treasure Valley Reload Center will go out next month and dirt will soon begin to move after the Oregon Transportation Commission approved the release of construction money for the Treasure Valley Reload Center Thursday afternoon.

The commission gave the green light for the funding during its regular meeting and as part of its consent agenda.

The unanimous decision was no surprise as the Oregon Department of Transportation and its consultant, The Tioga Group, concluded in separate reports released last week that the work Malheur County has completed on the project justifies releasing millions in taxpayer funds for the project north of Nyssa.

The first phase of the construction will consist of earthwork and drainage improvements. The first phase of construction will consist of about 290,000 cubic yards of earthwork, according to a press release from the Malheur County Economic Development Department.

The taxpayer-funded rail shipping center is designed to cut costs for onion shippers who now must rely on expensive trucking or unreliable rail service to their packing plants. The partnership between the onion shippers, the national warehousing company Americold and Union Pacific Railroad would also open new markets for the onion industry.

Project organizers reported recently that work to build the 60,000-square-foot loading center and associated rail lines could start in April or May. Construction could finish by June 2022 – in time for shipping next year’s onion crop.

“The Treasure Valley Reload Center’s ability to move forward to the construction phase is a testament to the teamwork of a great many people. At this time, I am pleased to support the project which will have such a positive effect on our local economy,” said Ron Jacobs, Malheur County commissioner, in the press release.

Previous coverage:

Nyssa rail center gets two thumps up as construction start looms

Two onion industry leaders overseeing public rail project set up new private business

County taxpayers to be tapped nearly $1 million to buy Nyssa property, state reports

PUBLIC MONEY, PRIVATE EMPIRE: Greg Smith serves many public masters – for a price.

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