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Moses Lake port buys more land for railroad project

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | June 28, 2022 11:56 AM

MOSES LAKE — With the approval of a second land deal on Monday, the Port of Moses Lake continues to buy the land needed for its Wheeler Corridor railroad project.

During a regular meeting, port commissioners voted unanimously to purchase a 1.4-acre parcel on the north side of Wheeler Road near the intersection of Wheeler Road and Hamilton Road for about $210,000 plus closing costs.

Commissioners also invoked eminent domain as part of the purchase, though the claim was not used to seize the land.

“So once again, gentlemen, this is not us using eminent domain to purchase the property, but it allows the property owner to get out of excise tax,” Port of Moses Lake Facilities Manager Milton Miller told commissioners during the meeting.

According to data available from the Grant County Assessor's Office, the 1.4-acre parcel was last assessed with a market value of $103,675, and according to data available from the Washington State Secretary of State’s office, was owned by 915 Third Avenue LLC, a corporation registered to James Anderson, Jr., and Grace Anderson.

Unlike the previous land purchase earlier this year, the port is buying the entire parcel, and not just a portion for the rail corridor.

“We’re purchasing all of it,” said Port of Moses Lake Finance Director Kim DeTrolio of the deal on Monday.

In early May, the Port acquired a 1.55-acre portion of a 7.7-acre parcel immediately to the north for $246,000.

The two purchases are part of the port’s continuing project to extend the Columbia Basin Railroad from Wheeler out to the Port, bypassing the railroad’s current line going through downtown. The project will involve securing right-of-way for new railroad tracks paralleling Wheeler Road, a new rail bridge over Crab Creek, and extensive rehabilitation of the existing rail line from Stratford Road into the port.

The Port has secured $30 million in state and federal funding to pay for the rail project and will continue to purchase land along its proposed Wheeler Corridor in preparation for construction, which port officials hope can begin sometime in early 2023.

“We’re going to do this again,” DeTrolio said of the land purchase.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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