Morton's heavy-haul corridor bill goes to governor for signature

OLYMPIA – The state legislature has approved a measure sponsored by Seventh District Senator Bob Morton, (R), to extend the heavy-haul industrial corridor designation on State Route 97.

This is important because the southern entrance to the railhead at Oroville is one-tenth of a mile outside of the current designation.

“Currently it ends right before Jennings Loop Road, about 100 feet from where it should be if you wanted to haul into Zosel’s lumberyard,” said Chris Branch, director of Oroville’s Community and Economic Development Department.

In 2008 the Legislature approved Morton’s bill to designate SR 97 from the Canadian border to Oroville as a heavy-haul industrial corridor. This designation spares Canadian trucks from having to off-load on the Canadian side of the border to redistribute weight to other trucks and then off-load again at the railhead in Oroville. Unfortunately, the designation turned out to be too short to allow access to and from South Jenning Loop Road – the southern entrance to the railhead, according to a press release issued by Sen. Morton.

“I am very pleased this extension has been approved. It is important to include South Jenning Loop Road in the corridor,” Morton said. “The bill also increases Washington’s maximum gross weight allotment so it is the same as British Columbia’s.”

Branch said the old weight limit was mistakenly based on the Canadian federal rules and not on those of British Columbia.

“The trucks coming in from Canada were still hauling 1000 kilos less than they were allowed under B.C. regulations,” said Branch. “Now the Washington and B.C. amounts are the same and they can haul the full amount going each way.”

The heavy haul corridor designation has aided existing businesses in Oroville like Oroville Reman and Reload, which takes dimensional lumber from Canada and other Canadian products that arrive by truck and reloads them onto rail cars. In addition, the business takes some of the Canadian lumber and saws to new dimensions and does value-added manufacturing before they are shipped out to retailers across the United States. In addition, the designation has led to new customers for the Cascade and Columbia River Railroad, including one company that hauls in cement that is in turn loaded onto trucks to be taken to customers in Canada.

Senate Bill 5589 is on its way to the governor to be signed into law.