Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vancouver USA Port Completes Major Rail Project

The Washington state Port of Vancouver has completed a $14.6 million freight rail loop at the port, the final component of a $66 million Terminal 5 rail upgrade project and a key component of the port's larger West Vancouver Freight Access project.

The 35,000-foot rail loop and associated rail yards are located at the port’s recently developed Terminal 5 and will provide rail service for a variety of cargoes, including wind energy components. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway began using the new loop track at the end of June.

Port officials said the new rail loop will make the port more attractive to customers.

“The more competitive we are as a port, the more we’re able to retain existing tenants and customers, as well as attract new businesses to our region," port Executive Director Larry Paulson said.

The new rail loop allows unit trains up to 7,500 feet long to be handled within the port’s internal rail complex, reducing congestion in BNSF’s Vancouver rail yard and on BNSF’s main north/south and east/west rail lines. It is estimated that completion of the Terminal 5 Unit Train Improvement project will decrease congestion on the BNSF main lines by 25 percent and when completed, the larger $137 million WVFA project will further reduce rial congestion up to 40 percent.

Work began on the rail loop in November 2009 and was declared officially open by BNSF on June 29. Completed ahead of schedule and on budget, the rail loop marks the first major milestone under the West Vancouver Freight Access and Industrial Track Agreement, an agreement reached between the port and BNSF in 2008 that provides the overall blueprint and timeline for the WVFA project. The entire WVFA project is expected to be completed some time in 2017.