A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Reload project faces competition

Written November 14th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

Greg Smith, standing, briefs the Albany council and others Monday about the Millersburg multimodal project.

Albany and Millersburg may face competition for the state’s $25 million to develop a mid-Willamette Valley intermodal transportation and reloading center. Lebanon and perhaps Eugene-Springfield may also submit applications, the Albany City Council heard Monday.

Greg Smith, a business development specialist from eastern Oregon, has been hired by the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corporation to manage its effort to launch the reload center on the property of the former Albany Paper Mill, which was closed and demolished by International Paper a few years ago.

Smith briefed the Albany council Monday. He’ll submit an application by the Dec.15 deadline and said he was “very confident that the project will move forward and will be done correctly.”

He also mentioned possible competing proposals, one from Lebanon and the other from the Eugene-Springfield area. He didn’t go into detail on either.

The 2017 legislature authorized $25 million in lottery-backed bonds to develop a reloading center — from trucks to trains and vice versa — in the mid-Willamette Valley. State Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, advanced the idea of using the vacant acreage of the former paper mill, ideally situated on I-5 and two main rail lines, the Union Pacific and the BNSF (operated by the Portland & Western).

Smith said he had obtained letters of support or cooperation from rail and shipping companies, and expressions of interest from potential operators of the reloading yard. He also said Linn County had stepped up to secure the real estate. I asked Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist about that, and he said the county was “in negotiations to secure the property.” Nyquist also said Lane County supports the Linn project and he was unaware of any competing project in the Eugene area.

If you want more and have good ears, you can listen to a recording of Smith’s presentation on the city’s website here. (It starts just before the 40-minute mark.)

Smith runs a business development company with offices in several central and eastern Oregon towns. A Republican whose home is in Heppner, he’s also the state representative for District 57 in northeast Oregon.

He told the council Monday that the reload yard could be built and operated “without impacting traffic in a negative way,” and he asked for Albany’s support. The council may act later. But Mayor Sharon Konopa warned that the reloading project should not cost Albany anything for transportation improvements or anything else. (hh)



5 responses to “Reload project faces competition”

  1. John Hartman says:

    Was Smith responding to Mayoral concerns related to any potential dumping of the costs onto the City of Albany when Smith said the yard could be built and operated “without impacting traffic in a negative way.”? Something’s amiss.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      No, his remark about traffic was not a direct response to the mayor’s concerns. I edited the story to change the sequence of sentences. Thanks for the question. (hh)

  2. John Hartman says:

    What manner of lobbying effort is planned to insure Albany’s inter-modal efforts are successful? Perhaps Andy Olson could butter-up to Tina Kotek and Peter Courtney thus helping grease Albany’s skids. I realize doing so would be anathema to Representative Olson, but this project is a long term cash cow for Albany-Millersburg. All the players have to buck-up to push Albany-Millersburg over the intermodal finish line first.

  3. James Engel says:

    An added perk for the site is the current development of the truck stop further north from the proposed location.

    • Craig Z. says:

      Yep…..hundreds of trucks a day can pass through town from the transfer station to Love’s Truck Stop to get fuel, a shower and lunch. Along with the anticipated 3,000 vehicles a day coming off the freeway to patron Love’s. Perfect addition to this quiet little town. But, maybe it needs to be re-evaluated as the Governor just announced that the closed down port in Portland will be reopening.


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