Experts mum about need for costly extra Nyssa rail spur

Railroad ties are stocked outside of Nyssa on Tuesday, April 12, to be used on miles of rail track planned for the Treasure Valley Reload Center. One $2.7 million track remains optional, officials say. (The Enterprise/LES ZAITZ)

NYSSA – As officials discuss the fate of the Treasure Valley Reload Center, there have been repeated references to something called Track C.

The track is one of four proposed to run on the reload center’s property north of Nyssa.

And it’s costly.

Contractors who bid to install that nearly one mile of track set the price at $4.4 million for that single spur. The cost would represent a significant portion of $26 million budgeted for the entire project.

Now project leaders are considering whether to build Track C at all.

They reported last week that the reload center could be as much as $9.8 million short of what’s needed to finish the shipping center.

To ship produce from Nyssa, rail cars would be shuttled off Union Pacific Railroad’s main line to the shipping complex. Empty cars and loaded cars would be shifted around on rail tracks. Union Pacific Railroad on a regular basis would pick up a string of filled cars to attach to eastbound trains.

Yet work on Track C has been repeatedly put off, raising questions about how essential it is to the reload center and why it was included in the project in the first place, if not necessary.

Those who know aren’t talking or don’t seem sure of the answers.

Greg Smith, the Malheur County economic development director, has been the project leader on the reload center for five years. But last week at a public meeting, he couldn’t address the importance of the rail spur to his project when asked about it.

“We’d have to visit with RailPros. They’re the folks I rely on,” said Smith, referring to a company designing the rail system for the Nyssa operation.

Brad Baird, president of Anderson Perry & Associates and lead engineer on the project, said the reload center could work if Track C was stripped from the project.

“I’m not a rail engineer but my understanding is that it’s necessary for a really, really nice perfect operation,” Baird said. “I think it may be able to be used without it but that’s a question that really should be answered by RailPros.”

Shawn Marshall, RailPros project engineer, hung up when a reporter from the Enterprise called last week about the matter. He didn’t respond to subsequent written questions and neither did Terry Tate, the other RailPros executive heavily involved in the Nyssa project.

Union Pacific Railroad also wouldn’t address questions about Track C.

“Union Pacific has regular discussions with the Treasure Valley Reload Center project sponsor as they seek to complete their project and begin rail operations,” according to an email from Mike Jaixen, the railroad’s senior communications manager.

Officials at Americold, the Atlanta-based international company contracted to run the Treasure Valley Reload Center, didn’t respond to written questions.

And the shifting costs for Track C aren’t readily clear.

Though bids show the track costing more than $4 million, Baird penciled in on recent cost estimates that putting in the track would add only $2.7 million to project costs.

He explained last week that the track location had been moved since the original design, saving about $1 million. 


Trucks damaging county roads on way to Nyssa reload project

Nyssa project can’t tap state program cited as one source for emergency $9.8 million

Construction on Nyssa reload center could stop unless nearly $10 million added, officials say 

Nyssa rail project short up to $5 million as work falls behind schedule

 Smith touts new, $3 million infusion of cash from Legislature for rail center, but it’s not there

EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM – Available for $5 a month. Subscribe to the digital service of the Enterprise and get the very best in local journalism. We report with care, attention to accuracy, and an unwavering devotion to fairness. Get the kind of news you’ve been looking for – day in and day out from the Enterprise.