Rail service in central Washington could improve thanks to a budget proposal in Olympia.  Governor Jay Inslee has included nearly $15 million in funding in his recently released 2023-25 Budget for the Connell Rail Interchange Project.  That price tag includes $10 million in funding already appropriated by the Legislature in 2015, plus an additional $5 million in the upcoming biennium for an actual total of $14.5 million that would be available.  If approved by lawmakers, the $14.5 million would fully complete this important infrastructure project.


Supporters of the proposal say the Connell Rail Interchange is a key rail interchange where the Columbia Basin rail line intersects with BNSF Railway’s Lakeside Subdivision line, which runs between Spokane and Pasco.  The Columbia Basin rail line goes serves a host of farming communities, including Moses Lake, Wheeler, Schrag, Warden, Othello, Royal City, Bruce, and Connell in Grant, Adams, and Franklin Counties.


Over the past several years, a significant amount of economic development and growth has been occurring in communities on the Columbia Basin rail line, especially in Grant and Adams Counties.  Consequently, the Columbia Basin rail line has become one of the busiest rail short lines in Washington State, hauling thousands of loads of various agricultural, industrial commodities and other cargo annually for 60 active rail shippers in the Columbia Basin, which employ nearly 7,000 people in Grant and Adams Counties.


The Connell Rail Interchange was built nearly 100 years ago, and the configuration of the interchange is outdated and inefficient.  Consequently, the Connell Rail Interchange needs to be upgraded and improved to accommodate current and future growth in rail cargo that is flowing to and through Connell.  As the track and infrastructure design for the Connell Rail Interchange Project is 100% completed, this important infrastructure project is ready for construction.


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