The Richland City Council is scheduled to consider a set of agreements tonight that would pave the way for development of a full-size rail loop in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park.
Central Washington Transfer Terminal is proposing the loop, which officials say would bring new tax revenue and jobs and potentially lead to as much as $100 million in private investment.
The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. at city hall, 505 Swift Blvd.
"This can put the Tri-Cities on the agricultural and industrial park map -- that's how I look at it," said Dennis Kyllo, Transfer Terminal co-owner.
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The loop also would be open for use by other companies. It would be big enough to hold a unit train for loading or offloading without uncoupling. Unit trains usually include about 100 cars and carry a single commodity.
The unit trains using the proposed rail loop would haul corn and other dairy feed, according to information from the city. More goods could be added in the future, although coal, hazardous waste and radioactive material wouldn't be allowed.
In Richland, the trains would travel on the Port of Benton track that starts at Tapteal and Columbia Center Boulevard, the city said.
About one unit train would come through every three weeks initially, with the maximum capacity at two trains a week, the city said.
Wait times at railroad crossings would go up a little bit when the unit trains come through, but the project also could lead to more money for crossing improvements, which could decrease the delay, the city said.
Tri-City Railroad Co., which maintains the Port of Benton track, has raised concerns about the proposal.
Randolph Peterson, Tri-City Railroad's founder and president, favors economic development, he said. But he worries about increased traffic and safety issues and isn't sure the public has been told enough about the project.
"How much notice has been given? A project of this size, I would think everybody would want to know as much about it as possible," he said.
Peterson's family also has a rail half-loop in Horn Rapids. He told the Herald his concerns are not about competition.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald