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Posted on Feb 5, 2015

2 port projects rely on state funding

This legislative session, the Port of Quincy is asking state lawmakers for money to help push through two projects.

The port is requesting $16.2 million to expand the infrastructure at its intermodal terminal, which has set idle since last fall. An expansion would add more surface storage area and rail siding as well as track to meet growth requirements of BNSF Railway.

The port also is requesting $500,000 to renovate the Quincy Community Center into a conference facility.

On top of the two requests for money, port officials also will testify this spring in favor of extending two tax incentives that greatly impact this area – sales and use tax exemptions for data centers built in rural areas and business and occupation tax breaks for the state’s food processors. Both incentives expire in June.

This legislative session is a busy one for Quincy, said Pat Boss, the port’s lobbyist. And the issues at hand, from tourism to rail and from high tech to food processing, show how unique and active this area is, Boss said.

“We are just going to be persistent,” Boss said of the port’s efforts in gaining legislative support for Quincy.

The Port of Quincy's intermodal terminal has set idle since last fall when Cold Train Express, its previous operator, went out of business.

The Port of Quincy’s intermodal terminal has set idle since last fall when Cold Train Express, its previous operator, went out of business.

The $16.2 million request to expand the intermodal terminal may go before the Senate and House transportation committees in May or June, Boss said. The proposed expansion has “dozens” of letters of support, and many shippers want the Quincy service to be restored, he said.

The port shut down its intermodal yard in October because it could not immediately meet the service terms requested by BNSF Railway. The intermodal’s previous operator, Cold Train Express, pulled out of the port’s property prior to the shutdown and has since gone out of business.

BNSF Railway, which owns the northern lines utilized by the intermodal yard that services Central Washington, said it would stop in Quincy once a week if the intermodal service could ensure it would have a 110-car unit train available for shipping. The 40-acre intermodal yard at this time does not have the space to allow for 110 cars in one shipping.

This project would expand the infrastructure at the intermodal terminal to meet growth and unit train requirements of BNSF Railway and to accommodate more outbound and inbound temperature-controlled, domestic intermodal freight, helping to eliminate congestion on the BNSF Northern Corridor mainline at Quincy.

The port believes it has two options to pay for the project — a federal grant or money allocated by the state Legislature, Boss said. The port applied for a $16.4 million federal grant for this project but was turned down last year.

Boss is optimistic the request will garner some support in Olympia. While it will be an “uphill battle,” the Legislature is considering a transportation package and one of its components is to reduce congestion, he said. The port must lay out to state officials what’s needed to get the terminal up and running again, Boss said.

“If we’re going to do it, this would be the session to do it,” he said.

The Port of Quincy is asking the state for $500,000 to renovate and upgrade the Quincy Community Center into a conference center.

The Port of Quincy is asking the state for $500,000 to renovate and upgrade the Quincy Community Center into a conference center.

The $500,000 capital request from the port to pay for a renovation of the Quincy Community Center is a viable and attractive proposal, Boss said.

The community center’s board in September asked the port to consider taking over the building so that it would remain under public ownership and get much needed repairs and renovations. The port is considering converting the building into a conference center and modernizing the facility.

Work would include:

  • About 8,200 square feet of flexible conference, banquet, meeting and breakout room space that is capable of accommodating both meeting groups and tourism and social functions.
  • Catering, kitchen and related capabilities.
  • Business services, AV equipment, telecommunications, WIFI high-speed Internet access, video links, satellite for teleconferencing and distance learning.

The $500,000 requested would fund the entire project, including site preparation, design and renovation.

Given the growth in Quincy in the last 10 years, it’s time the city had a meeting space that could accommodate 75 to 100 people, Boss said.

That request may not be considered until later in the session, such as April, Boss said.

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