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Port drops Troutdale rail facility idea

Local leaders excited that the site will include industrial development

TROUTDALE - The Port of Portland has dropped plans for a controversial inter-modal rail facility at the former Alcoa property and will pursue industrial development instead.

The 700-acre site, which sits just north of the Troutdale Airport, once housed the Reynolds Metals aluminum plant.

'It's wonderful news,' said Troutdale Mayor Paul Thalhofer, who had been very vocal in his opposition to the possible construction of an inter-modal rail facility on the site. 'I feel so relieved.'

Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby was also excited about the port's decision to abandon its plans for an inter-modal railyard.

'I am really pleased,' Weatherby said. 'To me, what we are looking for is to work in partnership with the port toward the best and highest use for the property.'

The idea for a rail facility caused concern among area residents who feared an influx of noise and air pollution caused by the additional trucks and trains that would be

traveling through the area.

Speaker of the House Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village, who sponsored a bill to prevent the port from building an inter-modal rail facility at the site for seven years, called the decision 'a win for the community.'

Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt met with Thalhofer on Monday, July 24, to discuss the details of the port's plans for the property, which is zoned for industrial use.

'Given market conditions for inter-modal rail and what we see as good strong demand for industrial land … the best use of that property going forward is as an industrial park,' said Bob Applegate, port spokesman.

Although the port has yet to finalize its purchase of the property, which is a Superfund clean-up site, the land will eventually be available for a mix of distribution, manufacturing and warehousing uses, Applegate said.

'We expect all of these parcels to be attractive to any of those uses,' Applegate said, adding that the site's easy access to Interstate 84, the Union Pacific Railroad and electrical power make the land particularly desirable.

'This is the single best large industrial property inside the urban growth boundary,' Applegate said.

Examples of the types of companies one would expect to see on the site can be found at the Port of Portland's Rivergate Industrial District, a 2,800-acre industrial park located at Terminal 6, Applegate said.

Rivergate is home to a wide range of businesses, including Purdy Brush Company, a paintbrush manufacturer, and Oregon Transfer Company, a transportation specialist that delivers goods across the state.

Thalhofer said he hoped port officials would incorporate some features of the Columbia Cascade River District into their plan, allowing for some type of tourist attraction at the confluence of the Columbia and Sandy rivers.

Before port officials can move forward with developing the site, the land needs to be brought into Troutdale's city limits.

'We made it clear that our desire is to annex the entire property at once and proceed to develop it for industrial uses,' Applegate said.

A portion of the property's west end, approximately 100 acres, already lies within the city of Fairview.

Port officials hope to make the necessary infrastructure improvements within the next two years and begin marketing the parcels for development.

'We are looking forward to our partnership with Troutdale to bring this land into the city and create … jobs,' Applegate said.

Publisher Mark Garber contributed to this report.