A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

$25 million for Millersburg project

Written July 6th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

The gate to the site of the former Albany Paper Mill. The photo was taken on Jan. 31, 2017.

Andy Olson has followed through on his idea of trying to make use of the Millersburg site where the International Paper company demolished the Albany Paper Mill. The transportation bill he helped write includes an allocation of $25 million for a “Mid-Willamette Valley Transmodal Facility.”

Rep. Olson, R-Albany, and Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist had discussed the possibility of turning the nearly vacant site of several hundred acres into a shipping center to benefit valley industries and agriculture. The center would enable exporters to bypass delays at the Port of Portland. The local center would transfer loads from trucks to trains on the Union Pacific line for export through ports in Washington or California.

I reported on this in February. Olson was part of a state commission that toured the state last year looking at transportation needs. When he learned about a transmodal shipping center proposed in eastern Oregon, he thought of something like it here.

Olson served on the legislature’s committee that worked on the transportation issue. He helped write the bill the legislature has now passed. The 167-page bill, raising vehicle and fuel taxes and funding $5.3 billion in programs and projects over seven years, includes Section 71f.

That the section that says that ODOT shall “first distribute” certain moneys in the Connect Oregon fund to the mid-valley intermodal facility ($25 million), the Treasure Valley intermodal facility ($26 million), rail expansion at the Port of Morrow ($6.55 million), and a rail siding at Brooks ($2.6 million).

(The bill contains funding for other work in the Albany area. According to Olson’s office, there’s $20 million for safety upgrades on the Albany-Corvallis Highway; $2.4 million each for Linn and Benton counties for transit; and more street funds to cities, with Albany getting $1.3 million each year.)

So what happens now? I wasn’t able immediately to reach Olson, but Abby Weekly in his office replied, “I believe the next step after the money is allocated is for the county to hire a project manager.”

Numerous other things presumably have to happen for this shipping center to become real. But securing state transportation funds to make it possible surely is one big step. (hh)

6 responses to “$25 million for Millersburg project”

  1. Michael says:

    Have you considered how contaminated that place is. If you need frac tanks for cleanup it would be along time before you could use the property. That place was a mill for along time before all the rules now. I think it’s a great idea but don’t wast the taxpayers money on an idea. My opinion.

    • centrist says:

      Maybe not so long
      Kraft linerboard operations are pretty benign as things go. No bleach byproducts, no coatings. Petro products are lube and fuel.

  2. John Hartman says:

    Replacing one eyesore factory with a “transmodal” rail yard doesn’t seem to be progress in any real sense. If this plan proceeds, Instead of a massive factory belching noxious fumes we will be innundated by endless rail cars and fleets of Peterbuilts clogging up the community. Of course, this worst case scenario can only happen provided the transmodal concept is actually used by the intended audience. In spite of Rep. Olson’s predictions, there is no solid evidence pointing to a need for a transmodal interconnect which will allow users to bypass Portland. One guesses this effort may be worth attempting, but no one should get overly excited just yet.

    • Craig Z says:

      My wife and I built a new home in Millersburg 4 years ago. The Community was quiet, a nice neighborhood, supposed low taxes, small town atmosphere. We had to fight the MUD and a City Council that refused to listen to it’s residents. Now on the North end of town Love’s Truck Stop is being built and perhaps a medical facility… Dumping over 2,000 vehicles a day onto Old Salem Rd. Now this is being proposed Midway through town…the potential for hundreds of more trucks coming into town from every I-5 off ramp. Millersburg use to be known as a Mill town, it will become the smelly diesel exhaust Trucking Town. Taxes are not low and future livability is in question. Perhaps my wife and I made a bad decision. If residents don’t want this, they better speak up. I suppose if the State and County want it, then it will eventually happen.


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