Special Reports

WATCHDOG: Construction of Malheur County rail center on hold as key contract talks drag on

Construction was expected to begin in March on the Malheur County rail reload facility but continuing delays in finishing agreements have put the work on hold for now. (Enterprise file)

Malheur County officials got the state in January to turn loose approximately $25 million for a new rail center by presenting key deals as nearly done – when they weren’t.

Officials at the Oregon Department of Transportation, under pressure to keep the project moving, accepted the assertions and relaxed mandates that had been in place for more than 18 months, according to government records and interviews.

The Oregon Transportation Commission instead agreed in part that Malheur County’s “spirit” of obedience was good enough, voting Jan. 21 to release the state money.

That freed Malheur County to start construction on the Treasure Valley Reload Center . . .