A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Under construction: Truck/rail reloading hub

Written April 21st, 2021 by Hasso Hering

On Wednesday, at the gate to theformer mill site where the new intermodal center is being built.

It was in 2017 that I wrote my first story about what seemed, at the time, an unlikely idea: To turn the vacant site of the demolished Millersburg paper mill into a multimodal reloading center that would connect the mid-valley to the world.

“This sounds like a fantasy now,” the story that February said. Four years later, the idea is becoming real with construction on the ground and dirt being moved.

There hasn’t been much said about this project lately, so a reader who evidently had forgotten about it wondered about all the activity he had seen east of Old Salem Road. (That’s where International Paper shut down the paper mill in December 2009 with the loss of 270 jobs, and the mill later was razed.)

I took a bike ride up Old Salem Wednesday to see for myself. I didn’t venture into the site, but even from the gate you can see big machines working in the distance.

In a nutshell, the story is this. Then-state Rep. Andy Olson had the idea for a Willamette Valley truck-to-rail reloading facility. The goal was to ease truck traffic and congestion in the Portland area, and to help mid-valley shippers of mostly agricultural goods. Toward this venture Olson got the 2017 legislature to approve $25 million.

Led by Commissioner Roger Nyquist, Linn County got on board with support and pledges of money, and the Millersburg site won out over two or three competitors when the Oregon Transportation Commission made its choice for what would become a $23 million grant.

Last month, on March 12, according to county tax records, the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corp. purchased the 132-acre former IP property for $9,160,000.

John Pascone, president of AMEDC, says 63 acres are being developed as the reloading center, with construction of several rail lines, loading docks, container cranes and so forth. The other half of the property, including a parcel on the west side of Old Salem, will be available for other development.

If you want to be overwhelmed with details, find the website of the Linn Economic Development Group here.

If everything goes according to plan, the reloading hub should be ready by the end of this year. Construction is expected to be be finished by December, and containers should be moving the following month. (hh)

The future reloading center in Millersburg has a nice view of the Cascades and Mt. Jefferson.

9 responses to “Under construction: Truck/rail reloading hub”

  1. John Allen says:

    Living in Millersburg I don’t look forward to the increased truck traffic on Old Salem Road. The website referenced above indicates over 300 trucks per week (assuming 1 container per truck) is possible. This will negatively impact the road surface, noise, traffic flow, etc.

  2. Don says:

    Can’t wait for the benefits it will provide to reduce truck traffic on I 5 and benefit the agricultural industry in south Valley.

  3. Ray Kopczynski says:

    I was driving back from Jefferson yesterday afternoon via I-5 and those “big machines” were very[!] visible…

  4. Jack JJ Johnny-John Hartman says:

    Oh My Goodness….another instance where taxpayer dollars went to develop property for the business benefit. Glad to see there’s no hint of Socialism for the business sector.

  5. Letha says:

    At the beginning of this idea of a reload center on Old Salem Rd. I wrote to Andy Olson to voice my concerns. I am still concerned that this will be a negative impact for .Millersburg. If there would be an entry from I-5 rather than the trucks going on Old Salem Rd. it would be more feasible to alleviate traffic in our area. Those who made the decision to go forward on this project had no consideration for the residents who only have that one access from Millersburg to Albany – other than the I-5, and then that would impact what they say they want to avoid.

  6. James Engel says:

    Good idea Letha for an dedicated off ramp from I-5. Problem is it would have to cross main line R/R tracks on the west side of I-5 which could prove a BIG problem. And Letha, your legislators really don’t care about the common folk…If you’ve been following the news for some years you’d get the idea.

  7. Rich Kellum says:

    Maybe a little different perspective:
    It’s my understanding that ODOT has plans for an overpass at tank farm road, and has for a long time. Compared to the hundreds of trucks that used the Albany Paper Mill entrance daily, I wonder why there is concern about trucks going to this facility. As to “Oh My Goodness….another instance where taxpayer dollars went to develop property for the business benefit. ” This project uses taxpayer dollars to enliven a community with activity that creates jobs, makes a place for industry to work while paying rent, lowers the traffic on I5 all at the same time, and BTW is due to be paid back to the government who LOANED the funds to begin with…………

  8. P. Richner says:

    Thank you for the update on this, Hasso.

    I live in Millersburg and had noted the activity for the last several weeks, meaning to ask you about it. I’m glad someone did.

  9. Steven Anderson says:

    It’s interesting to see this development.

    When operational I hope this will greatly benefit the grass industry, making a much shorter trip for truckers who currently haul containers from hay press to port in St. Helens, since presses are located throughout the region, not conveniently located on rail lines as are most major seed warehouses.


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