Millersburg reload hub: Next steps

The old truck scales on the International Paper property in Millersburg. (The photo is from February.)

Things have been strangely silent since I reported on July 6 on the $25 million allocation for a possible Millersburg intermodal shipping hub that Rep. Andy Olson got approved as part of the legislature's transportation law. But it won't be quiet long.

Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist was involved in he early discussions about this project, which would make use of the vacant site of International Paper's former Albany Paper Mill. A few days ago I asked him what was happening and what the next steps would be.

On Friday he got back to me: "There are a couple 'next steps' being worked as a result of the legislative appropriation," he wrote in an email. "One is the initiation of a conversation for the potential acquisition of the property. Another is a discussion of potential community partners as to who should create the business plan presented to the (Oregon Transportation Commission) to receive the funds appropriated by the legislature and to lead the project."

In is opinion, Nyquist continued, the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corp. may be in the best position to carry this project forward. "Their composition is both public and private sector members, and their goal is to strengthen the local economy, which is the main motivation to create the reload facility in our area. We may see substantial progress on these first two steps in the next week."

In Millersburg, meanwhile, City Manager Steven Hasson said the city council may take up the "development of a Mid-Willamette Valley Transmodal Facility," which is what the legislature called it, at its next meeting starting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 8. If real estate acquisition is the topic, chances are the council will go into an executive session where the public is barred.

On Friday the Linn County commissioners issued a press statement thanking Rep. Olson, R-Albany, for the allocation of state funds. "If done properly," the board said, "a transportation reload facility will help to solve a serious problem for local agriculture and manufacturing companies created by the change in operations at the Port of Portland. It also should improve traffic safety and congestion on I-5 for motorists. If built, the proposed facility would create jobs and be an economic driver in our county for the next 50 years."

News of the proposal, however, did not generate unanimous acclaim. At least one reader of my July 6 story worried that his Millersburg neighborhood would lose the peace and quiet that caused his family to move there. (hh)

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