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Federal Railway Administration releasing $9.9 million in funds for M.L. railway project

The existing rail line follows a circuitous route between Wheeler and downtown Moses Lake. This section of rail is located next to State Route 17 at Parker Horn, in downtown Moses Lake.

- Moses Lake North, WA

The Federal Railway Administration said that they will be releasing nearly $9.9USD million to refurbish portions of a 3 mile (4.83km) track that stretches from Stratford Rd into Moses Lake North (near the Grant County Intl. Airport). The fundings are also going towards the construction of 5 miles of new track that will connect the downtown tracks to Wheeler (a small unincorporated town near REC Silicone 14 min east of Downtown M.L.).

Local leaders have developed a project proposal that includes five segments or phases.

WSDOT's feasibility study indicates that the cost to construct each of these segments will range from $1.8 million to $70 million. The Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to use the remaining $1.7 million to work with the Port of Moses Lake and the federal Surface Transportation Board to develop the required environmental documents for the project. The Port of Moses Lake was awarded a state grant worth around $20.9 USD million in 2015. This will bring the total funding of Moses Lake's railway system to around $31 USD million.

According to the Columbia Basin Herald the fundings will also bring train life back to the city. The rail lines have been in the works for nearly a decade, the new rails and refurbished tracks will connect the Port of Moses Lake in Moses Lake North to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad mainline in Connell via the Columbia Basin Railroad’s terminal in Wheeler. This will allow rail traffic to bypass the current rail line through downtown Moses Lake and will allow for increased rail traffic to industries and businesses at the port the Herald reported.

Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2021 however it is still unclear what will be constructed first, the refurbishment of the existing rail line, or segment three. The new rail line along Wheeler Road just before Simplot and REC is segment one of the new project.

More information can be found on the Herald's website here.

BY MLWA 7 News / CBH

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