A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

From an idea to now: Intermodal center ready

Written November 16th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

This is one of several cranes that will be used to transfer containers from truck to rail and vice versa.

It was in February 2017 when I got wind of a plan to turn the vacant former paper mill property in Millersburg into a reloading center to connect Willamette Valley shippers with the rest of the world. It sounded far-fetched at the time, but on Wednesday I got a chance to take a look at the finished result.

Five years ago, the idea was hatched by then-state Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, and Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist. Now the $35.5 million Mid-Willamette Valley Intermodal Center expects to handle its first containers later this month or next.

On Wednesday, Nyquist gave reporters tours of the place. It occupies 64 acres of what used to be the site of the Millersburg kraft paper mill operated by several companies, one after the other. The last was International Paper, which closed the plant in 2009 with the loss of 270 high-paying jobs.

Eventually, several gantry-type cranes will lift containers off trucks and on to train cars for shipment to marine terminals in Sattle and Tacoma. The center expects to handle 40,000 containers a year, mostly exports but imports too.

Here are people I saw there on Wednesday:

Danny Bonilla, a terminal manager in San Bernardino, operates the crane truck. He’s here to help get the Millersburg operation under way.


Michael Jones oversees several reloading centers for ITS ConGlobal from Oregon to San Diego.


Vanesa Alas is the Millersburg terminal manager for ITS ConGlobal, which operates the facility.


Linn Commissioner Roger Nyquist stands in a huge warehouse left over from the paper mill. It may be used to store shipments of imported seed stock, but its use has not been decided.

The 2017 legislature appropriated $25 million, of which $23.5 million was actually contributed to the Linn Economic Development group, which managed the project and is committed to running it for at least 20 years. Linn County contributed $12.5 million in the interest of supporting mid-valley agriculture and industries.

The reloading operation should save truckers and shippers all kinds of time and expense running back and forth to West Coast ports. For detailed economic projections, check out a website here.

Visiting the reloading center will no doubt be more exciting when some actual loading is taking place.

For now, here’s another look at a section of the three new train tracks and the truck and loading apron, about half a mile long, while a Union Pacific freight goes past on the mainline just behind the fence. (hh)




25 responses to “From an idea to now: Intermodal center ready”

  1. MillersburgResident says:

    What happened to the nice landscaping and the full length walking path we were promised in the plans presented to the public? Appearance of the facility looks “unkept” and not ready.

  2. Bob Woods says:

    Ok all you conservatives, let’s hear about how incensed you are at politicians using public monies to fund improvements. Does that fact that it was Olson and Nyquist are both Republicans, so that makes it OK? $12.5 million from Linn County?

    I think it’s great, but the way you always trash-talk Albany and CARA don’t you object here too?

    • Hartman says:

      Bob, your comments are appreciated. Remember though: when tax monies are granted to support large business, that’s economic development which is politically expedient. Only when dollars target those less likely to make significant campaign contributions, that it becomes problematic.

    • Joshua Provence says:

      Gaslighting much? Republican’s are not against governments spending money. They are against wasteful spending as anyone should be. Investment in freight infrastructure is a wise investment in the future economic growth of the region.

    • Cheryl P says:

      Seems to me that there is a difference between using public monies to generate jobs and local income and what…housing developments that most people can’t afford, nit-picking over window trim, Wells Fargo Bank Building.

      I’ve been in Albany for twenty years now…I actually grew up not far from here, graduated high school in the late seventies. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the area over the last…wow…almost fifty years. There have been a lot of things that Albany has done right, but there have been a lot of things that Albany has done wrong. Too many in recent years and a lot of it is just stupid stuff. FYI – I’m a moderate.

      Now you are always going to have folks like you…who think they are better than others, who deliberately incite others and then sit back and play the victim. So before you accuse others of ‘trash-talk’, might want to look in the mirror and clean out that land-fill.

    • MarK says:

      Well, CARA money is usually thrown into projects that will return little or no money back in the the local economy. Most Albany (council) based projects have pretty the same results (no ROI).

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Oh gee the chief pontificator from Salem who ate from the trough for all those years demanding that his electric car be subsidized by the taxpayer, is worried that a conservative might or might not like a program. It is obvious from your comments that you do not understand what Return on investment for the taxpayer vs subsidies for special interest. You have zero credibility Bob.

  3. CHEZZ says:

    Hurrah! Increased employment for the area!

  4. Kevin G. says:

    When managed and operated safely, the IMC looks to be a great money maker for Linn County’s private-sector economy!

  5. thomas earl cordier says:

    thanks again HH for updating us on this great project

  6. William Gannon says:

    The pending railroad strike, will put a hold on activities for a while. Don’t expect much help from congress, they have bigger fish to fry, like spending more money, before January comes around and the republican house takes over.

  7. Pat Kight says:

    It’s taken them a long time, but it’s good to see that it’s finally happening!

  8. Floyd Collins says:

    Bob: I’m disappointed in your comments on this project without doing your homework. Through the cooperation of State and Linn County a vacated industrial brownfield is being turned into a productive tax generator. This project is only the first of many to add to the tax base and more jobs than the initial 12. It will lower shipping cost for the local farmers, reduce 18 wheeler traffic from the valley to Seattle and the associated pollution. Thanks to Andy and Roger for their committed. Leadership.

    Your old boss.

    • Sharon Konopa says:

      Floyd….Bob is correct to a point, this is not a lot of jobs considering per acre. Question, will this center be applying for Enterprise Zone tax exemption? If so, then is the 25 or so jobs that much of a benefit? How many of those jobs will be migrated in from out of our area?
      Reducing truck traffic on I-5 will be great, but these trucks need to access this center from other areas? How many will be traveling through Albany via Hwy 20 and 34? How many will be crossing over our bridges, Pacific Blvd to Salem Ave? There is a lot of unknowns!
      The center can always tell drivers to not drive through Albany, but you and me (and Bob) know that doesn’t work!

      • Rich Kellum says:

        Sharon, wouldn’t those trucks going thru Albany to the reload or to I5 to Seattle or Tacoma would amount to the same traffic thru Albany.

        • Sharon Konopa says:

          Rich, If current truck traffic were on Hwy 34 headed to the freeway wouldn’t impact Albany. But if they cut off on to 99 then they would. If current truck traffic from the coast headed north normally on 99w to Salem and instead headed to the center would impact Albany. As I stated, a lot of unknowns!

          • Rich Kellum says:

            You would be correct if that were true, but trucks would not knowingly go thru town at 35 when they can do 55-60 on a better road even if it were a little longer

        • Sharon Konopa says:

          Tell that to the GPS devices, Rich! Also, the 1st Street train trestle!

          Cheryl P: I’m not sure who you were referring to “under your purview”, this project is Millersburg’s, so Albany didn’t have much say.

      • Cheryl P says:

        Wasn’t that under your purview?

    • Matthew Calhoun says:

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this blog it’s that Albany’s elected leaders and city employees are completely incompetent. Thanks, Hasso!

  9. Margaret Abbott says:

    Would love to get a job there! Can move the containers around the yard!


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