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)