Gateway Rock, LLC, recently finalized a contract with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) for a $260,000 Industrial Rail Spur grant to build a new railroad spur to its property in Gateway, northeast of Madras.
The company plans to expand an existing gravel pit for the purpose of mining and crushing high quality blue basalt for local Central Oregon customers.
The spur extension is the first phase of a three-phase $1.5 million project. Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) assisted the company with its ODOT grant application. The Gateway Rock grant was one of two awarded to Central Oregon companies.
It is estimated that the project will result in the creation of five to seven new jobs in the next three years, including heavy equipment operators and construction positions.
In addition, the installation of the spur will eliminate the need for the company to transport heavy aggregate by truck on Oregon highways to both local and out-of-state markets.
"Transporting aggregate by rail provides a significant cost savings versus transporting product by truck," said Gateway Rock President Lorne Stills. "We expect to generate 700 carloads of rail freight annually, which equals approximately 70,000 tons of material." Stills and partner Bob McDonald calculate that this amount represents 2,450 truck loads.
"We see a real opportunity for us here in the Central Oregon market, and even outside the region," said Stills. "Customers are already calling us to find out when aggregate will be ready for shipment. If all goes as planned, we should be transporting product by summer."
The state of Oregon created the Industrial Rail Spur Fund in 2003, allowing for the issuance of lottery bonds for the purpose of financing grants and loans to fund industrial rail spurs for the 2003/2005 biennium. The purpose of the program is to promote the retention and creation of jobs and to retain and grow railroad carloadings.
Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to building a strong and secure economic future for Central Oregon. To learn more about EDCO, visit www.edforco.org.