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Officials Laud Oregon's New Truck-to-Rail Shipping Facility

Tue December 27, 2022 - West Edition #1
ODOT


The vision for this project was to make exporters and importers more cost- and equipment-efficient; to get trucks and freight out of Portland traffic; and to be more competitive moving freight to the Midwest and East Coast U.S. buyers
The vision for this project was to make exporters and importers more cost- and equipment-efficient; to get trucks and freight out of Portland traffic; and to be more competitive moving freight to the Midwest and East Coast U.S. buyers
The vision for this project was to make exporters and importers more cost- and equipment-efficient; to get trucks and freight out of Portland traffic; and to be more competitive moving freight to the Midwest and East Coast U.S. buyers Nearly 200 supporters attended the celebration for the project, which will serve as an intermodal center for the valley’s natural resource-based economy.
(Photo courtesy of ODOT.) Freight railroads account for 40 percent of U.S. long-distance freight volume — more than any other mode of transportation. Yet, they account for just 0.5 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA data.
(Photo courtesy of ODOT.)

A group of proud ribbon-cutters gathered between two shipping containers to mark the grand opening — and completion — of the Mid-Willamette Valley Intermodal Center recently in Millersburg, a small community in the heart of western Oregon's agricultural country.

Nearly 200 supporters attended the celebration for the project, which will serve as an intermodal center for the valley's natural resource-based economy. Trucks will bring cargo in international containers to the facility so it can be transferred to rail cars, which then head north to marine terminals in Seattle and Tacoma — bypassing busy Interstate 5 congestion along the way.

ODOT's Connect Oregon program provides funding for non-highway projects that bring multiple benefits to an area. The $35.5 million, 64-acre Mid-Willamette Valley Intermodal Center will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking trucks off the roadways and using rail instead. It will give farmers and others another option for getting goods to market and may reduce shipping costs, while also giving the local economy a boost with potential for new businesses and services.

"In 2017, we chose four projects to receive ODOT's Connect Oregon funding, based on the multiple benefits these projects would bring us," Gov. Kate Brown said. "I'm proud to say we made a great choice — the right choice. Working together, we have created a success we can all be proud of."

Several guest speakers shared their perspectives, including Roger Nyquist, Linn County commissioner and board vice chair of the Linn County Economic Development Group, which led the way in getting support for the project.

"Our region has a long history of producing products that are beneficial to people around the world — from two-by-fours to the food people put on their dinner plates," Nyquist said. "This intermodal facility ensures the products will have ample transportation access to those markets long into the future."

Nyquist added, "We are grateful to all involved who have helped make this happen. I want to thank Governor Brown and former State Rep. Andy Olson for their leadership in making this project a reality."

ODOT Director Kris Strickler added his congratulations and emphasized the unique aspects of the project.

"We've never developed a major freight intermodal transfer hub. Connect Oregon has never taken a site used for something else and turned it into a non-highway-funded transportation facility," Strickler said. "I'm particularly proud of this project because of what it demonstrates: that the public and private sectors can do great things when we work together for good," Nyquist said.

ConGlobal is the terminal operator at the new center and CEO Brandt Ring credited the array of partners involved for completing the project.

"Our team of experts at ConGlobal has enjoyed working with the team that planned, designed and built the Mid-Willamette Valley Intermodal Center," Ring said. "The end result is a facility with exceptional capabilities."

Ryan Calkins, co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, noted his organization is ready to support operations.

"The Northwest Seaport Alliance is glad to partner with the Union Pacific Railroad, ConGlobal and Linn Economic Development Group to support the Intermodal Center and rail service, which will move exports through marine terminals in Seattle and Tacoma to overseas markets," said Calkins. "We are excited for the launch of this new export initiative and for the economic benefit it will bring to both Oregon and Washington state."

Aaron Hunt, senior director of public affairs of Union Pacific, commented on the many benefits the project will bring.

"Union Pacific looks forward to serving Mid-Willamette Valley Intermodal Center customers through our innovative freight rail franchise," he said. "Moving Mid-Willamette Valley products by rail will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent further congestion on Oregon and Washington highways."

Hunt added, "Freight railroads account for 40 percent of U.S. long-distance freight volume — more than any other mode of transportation. Yet they account for just 0.5 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA data, and just 1.9 percent of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions."

Much of the celebration focused on recognizing the many partner groups and individuals who helped get the facility ready to serve.

"The project team wishes to thank the public and all companies involved in completing construction of this site," said Don Waddell, executive director and project manager of Linn Economic Development Group. "The team now shifts its focus to successfully beginning operations to achieve the expected public and economic benefits of the MVIC."

Potential shippers using the facility include Karla Chambers and her family's company, Stahlbush Island Farms Inc. Chambers spoke at the ribbon-cutting and emphasized how important the facility is going to be.

"The vision for this project was to make exporters and importers more cost- and equipment-efficient; to get trucks and freight out of Portland traffic; and to be more competitive moving freight to the Midwest and East Coast U.S. buyers," Chambers said. "This rail facility will also help us as we experience high diesel costs and truck driver and labor shortages."




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