Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vancouver USA Port Inches Closer to Fully Funding Massive Rail Project

US Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., visited the Washington-state Port of Vancouver on Tuesday to celebrate a $10 million federal infrastructure grant she helped push through Congress.

Formally announced on Oct. 15, the grant inches the port one step closer to fully funding its massive $148 million West Vancouver Freight Access Project.

The $10 million grant will go toward the completion of two key components of the WVFA project: a vehicle bridge over rail tracks at Gateway Avenue that will improve access to the port's Terminal 5 facility; and, a rail enhancement project at the port's United Grain facilities. Both projects are set to begin construction next year.

In July, the port completed a rail loop project as the final phase of its $66 million Terminal 5 rail upgrade project – itself the first key component of the larger WVFA project.

Work began on the Terminal 5 rail loop began in November 2009 and was declared officially open by BNSF on June 29. Completed ahead of schedule and on budget, the rail loop marked the first major milestone under the West Vancouver Freight Access and Industrial Track Agreement, a deal 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.

Last month, the Vancouver port board voted to apply for a United States Federal Rail Administration loan to cover the remaining $76 million needed to complete the WVFA project. When completed, the WVFA project will boost the port's rail network from just under 17 miles to more than 44 miles and triple the rail car capacity of the port-area BNSF tracks.