Work ready to begin on railport project in Elko County |

Work ready to begin on railport project in Elko County

John Seelmeyer

Elko County officials are expected to open bids next week on construction of infrastructure at a railport project that’s foreseen as a cornerstone of diversification of the county’s mining-centered economy.

The 60-acre Northeastern Nevada Regional Railport, which is budgeted at about $10 million, is scheduled for completion in mid-2009, said Elaine Barkdull Spencer, executive director of the Elko County Economic

Diversification Authority.

An adjacent 478-acre industrial park is expected to draw industrial users who need rail access in an era when the Union Pacific Railroad has limited creation of new spurs off its main lines.

In addition, the railport industrial park is projected to serve companies that will transfer bulk materials mining ore, for instance between railcars and trucks.

In fact, one of the first companies to purchase land near the railport is Spirit Minerals, which mines barite north of Wells. It will truck ore to the railport industrial park for processing and loading into railcars.

Other companies that have signed on include Pacific Steel and Recycling, a Montana-based metals products company that serves the mining industry; SAS Global, a Michigan company that’s a metal fabricator and producer of custom components for the mining, power and oil industries; and Ormaza Group, which plans a

truck terminal and warehouse at the railport industrial park.

Other companies are taking serious looks at more than 90 acres of the industrial park, Spencer said.

Construction of the railport portion of the project will include site work, utility relocation and construction of rail lines.

Spencer said development executives in Elko County have targeted distribution companies for the industrial park because of its location between the West Coast and Salt Lake City and good highway and rail access.

The railport, however, isn’t intended to handle cargo containers but is designed for bulk commodities.

Spencer said the facility also might draw use from companies looking for rail-car storage.

Elko County officials haven’t yet selected a company to serve as operator of the railport itself.

The employment at companies located at the railport industrial center will help diversify an Elko County economy that’s heavily dependent on mining, Spencer said.

The mining business currently is so strong that billboards along Interstate 80 and elsewhere in the state are recruiting workers to the Elko area to meet the industry’s needs. But memories remain strong of the years earlier in this decade when precious minerals prices were low and mining jobs were hard to find.