OLYMPIA – A measure sponsored by Sen. Bob Morton (R-7th District) which would benefit his district’s local economy and reduce the number of trucks on Highway 97 and perhaps I-5, passed the state Senate on Valentine’s Day.
The measure, Substitute Senate Bill 6857, would direct the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to designate about a seven-mile stretch of SR-97 from the Canadian border to Oroville as a heavy haul industrial corridor.
Currently, Canadian trucks must off-load on the Canadian side of the border to redistribute the weight to other trucks and then off-load again at Oroville at the rail head. SSB 6857 would allow trucks to use the corridor with WSDOT special permits for gross truck weights up to 137,000 pounds — about a third more weight than currently allowed.
“I think this will be a real asset to the town since we have the rail head right here,” said Oroville Mayor Chuck Spieth. “I know the railroad has been struggling to keep the line going and this will be a boost to them and to the area.”
The U.S. Port of Entry at Oroville is the only crossing in Eastern Washington open 24 hours a day. It is a gateway for the hauling of fruit and lumber. At Oroville, truck loads are put on the Cascade & Columbia River Railroad to go to the Wenatchee area and shipment across the nation.