Rail spur could spark economic development in Winnemucca | nnbw.com

Rail spur could spark economic development in Winnemucca

Ashley Maden

The Humboldt Sun

The proximity of the railroad tracks to the Winnemucca Airport Industrial Park allows for a rail spur to be built in the area, possibly creating additional opportunities for further economic development, officials say.
Courtesy Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority

WINNEMUCCA, Nev. — Government and economic officials in Humboldt County are in the initial phases of developing a plan for a potential rail spur development near the Winnemucca Municipal Airport industrial park, which could make the area more enticing for organizations who are considering locating a facility in the area.

Winnemucca City Manager/Engineer Alicia Heiser said most companies who express interest in building a facility near the industrial complex near the airport request the availability of a rail spur for purposes of easy access to transporting and unloading raw materials in bulk industrial quantities. 

Humboldt Development Authority Economic Development Officer Jan Morrison said that of the last five companies interested in locating near the airport industrial park in Humboldt County, all but one requested rail. 

“A couple of them are still out there and haven’t decided, a couple of them have moved on and we really never know what makes their decisions,” said Morrison. “If another location has good land and good things going on with a rail spur available, that’s far more desirable because a rail spur is expensive and takes up to a year to construct. Locations that are rail ready definitely go to the top of the pile.” 

A rail spur is a length of railroad tracks that deviates off the main track to allow for a train to pull off to be loaded or unloaded for a period of time, allowing for regular train traffic to continue uninterrupted. 

Morrison said the typical cost of a rail spur is $1.5 million to $2 million and that there aren’t many rail spurs that go through Winnemucca and that the ones that do are privately owned, limiting access to them.  

Heiser said that although Union Pacific would play a part in approving the railroad spur, they would not contribute financially to building the spur. She said Union Pacific would likely construct the parts of the spur that connect to the main line, with an independent contractor building the rest of the spur. 

Currently, the Humboldt Development Authority, city of Winnemucca and Humboldt County are working to obtain a 30% design from an engineering consultant to provide a basic conceptual design and cost estimate for the spur, which will provide an idea of the funding needed and also providing a design to be shown to companies looking to relocate to the area, showing that it’s possible to build a rail spur if necessary. 

Morrison estimates the cost for the 30% engineering plan and surveying at $35,000 and said that the city, county and HDA could split the cost, although the plan is still in its initial phases, with the request for proposal as the next step. 

Once a funding need is determined and plans are in place, local government officials have the ability to apply for a federal department of transportation build grant next year, an infrastructure grant geared toward transportation that can help with the large cost of the project. 

“Because of interstate 80 and highway 95 going north, Winnemucca is a perfect site for logistics in being able to add a railspur; with the airport we should be able to attract some high quality companies,” said Morrison.