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Tacoma rail dropping service to Thurston County –
Yelm’s $300,000 purchased rail spur unused and in despair

Tacoma Rail logo

– Short line RR intended to connect to Yelm’s RR spur to drop all Thurston County service
The Yelm City Council paid $300,000 in 1999 to buy an abandoned rail spur to Yelm at the insistence of former Councilor Don Miller, whose father was Yelm Station-Master for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Miller professed Yelm would be a good connecting point between Olympia and Tacoma for commuter rail passenger traffic and a key destination for rail freight goods to/from future tenants in the Yelm Industrial Park.

A decade and a half later, the railroad spur’s bridge over the Nisqually River and tracks to Yelm are in major disrepair from lack of city upkeep. The City of Yelm could not afford to restore the line now to operational condition because of their budget constraints, even if a short line railroad desired to serve Yelm, and there are now no tenants in the Yelm industrial area, since Lasco Bathware left the area.

Now, the only short line that operated through the Yelm area on a different line (via tracks to Olympia that transit north from outside Yelm at Harris & Bald Hill Rd. to the McKenna Bridge and parallel to SR 507 north of Roy and on to Tacoma) is to end service to Thurston County. A short-line railroad transfers freight cars to/from transcontinental railroads.

– Yelm paid $300,000 in 1999 to buy a rail spur from Roy
“The 4.5 mile rail line, which spans from Yelm to Roy, was purchased for $300,000 from Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 1999.

The line is out of use, [former City Administrator Shelly] Badger said, until an operator controls the rail and customers are lined up to use the rail.

The best way for this to happen, she said, is to connect the rail line to Tacoma Rail and possibly contract with them to operate it.”

“City officials have requested $3.5 million from the state for line construction, line refurbishment and right-of-way acquisition.”

“The rail line is needed to promote economic development in Yelm, Badger said.

‘Connection is critical to development,’ she said.

‘If we want to get rail dependent businesses into Yelm, they need that connection,” quoting the Nisqually Valley News, April 6, 2007.
Read more
Editor’s Note: Of course, nothing happened and the rail spur is rusting away.

– “Tacoma Rail to end short-line service to Thurston County”
“Largest customers in Thurston County include Port of Olympia and Mottman Industrial Park
Last day for Tacoma Rail service is March 15
BNSF Railways is searching for a replacement and ensures no impact to service”

“After 11 years, Tacoma Rail’s red-and-white striped engines will soon stop chugging through the Olympia area because of vandalism and a lack of business.

The short-line railroad transfers freight cars to the Union Pacific and BNSF railroads for shipping across the country. The Port of Olympia and the Mottman Industrial Park are two of the railroad’s largest customers in Thurston County.

Tacoma Rail will not renew its lease on two lines.”

“Tacoma Rail’s lease will expire March 15. BNSF owns the lines and is searching for a new railroad to immediately take over,” quoting Andy Hobbs, The Olympian.
Read more

– Yelm’s Draft 2009 Transportation Plan Update
Y7 Prairie Line Railroad
The rail corridor will serve as a dual use bike/pedestrian and commuter/freight corridor. A number of repairs are necessary prior to resuming operations on the line, and other repairs can be scheduled during the first year of operation. Plans for future use include developing additional traffic from industrial users and a possible link to commuter rail service to Tacoma and Seattle.

Y7A Connect Prairie Line to Tacoma Rail Project Description
Connect the Yelm Prairie Line to the Tacoma Rail Mountain Line south of Roy.

Yelm Transportation Plan Need
Connecting to Tacoma Rail will allow the City to operate or contract for short haul rail services from the Yelm Industrial Area to the Port of Tacoma, Port of Olympia, Fredrickson, and Centralia.
Right-of-way and crossing SR 7.
Cost (in 2008 Dollars) $3,500,000
Read more from the City of Yelm.

Posted by Steve on January 13, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

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