Local Information

New operator selected for a section of state-owned PCC railroad in Eastern Washington

Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 13:57

Janet Matkin, communications, 360-705-7966

$5.7 million federal BUILD grant for PCC rail improvements also recognized

SPOKANE – A new operator is coming to one of three branches of the state-owned Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) rail system.

After requesting proposals to run the railroad’s P&L Branch, the Washington State Department of Transportation selected Omaha Track as the next operator through a competitive evaluation process. Once an agreement is signed later this summer, the Omaha, Nebraska based company will operate the branch line that runs between the Idaho state line near Pullman and Marshall, just south of Spokane.

The P&L branch is one of three in the PCC rail system. The other lines are the PV Hooper Branch in Whitman County, operated by the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad, and the CW Branch between Cheney and Coulee City, which is operated by the Washington Eastern Railroad.

BUILD grant will help fund improvements

In other PCC news, at an event in Cheney on Tuesday, May 28, Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar recognized a federal grant that will help fund improvements to the railroad system. The $5.7 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant, combined with $5.3 million in state Connecting Washington funds and $335,000 local contributions, will provide $11.3 million to upgrade all three branches of the PCC by:

  • Replacing or rehabilitating 10 bridges
  • Rehabilitating 28 miles of track
  • Replacing one mile of rail

The improvements will help keep the PCC system updated and competitive for agricultural freight shipments. The overall PCC rail system is crucial in assisting farmers in getting their goods to national and global markets. The PCC system serves Adams, Grant, Lincoln, Spokane and Whitman counties.

WSDOT purchased the 298-mile PCC line in two parts in 2004 and 2007 to ensure it would remain a viable option to farmers in the area. Shipping agricultural products by rail reduces wear and tear on Washington’s highways, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and supports long-term jobs in the area.

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