High cost a surprise for rail removal
Work at Fairchild to begin next month
Spokane County will have to pay $83,652 more than estimated to remove abandoned railroad tracks from Fairchild Air Force Base.
The low bid among three submitted this week by local contractors was L&L Cargile Inc.’s offer to remove the unused track for $277,390.
The county Engineering and Roads Division had estimated the cost at $193,738.
“We do roads, mostly,” said plans and contracts engineer Tim Schwab.
He said county engineers underestimated the difficulty that Air Force security regulations would pose for contractors. Also, they overestimated the salvage value of the old rail and ties, Schwab said.
Mountain Crest Enterprises asked $289,383 for the work; West Co., $324,048.
Schwab said the contract could be awarded Tuesday if county commissioners accept the low bid. He said work is expected to start in early August and conclude by Oct. 7.
County commissioners agreed to remove the track from the air base as part of a deal in which the county acquired and realigned the Geiger Spur to keep it in operation. Air Force officials had announced they would no longer allow trains to cross the base because of security concerns.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad said it probably would abandon the Geiger Spur rather than realign it. Spokane County stepped in because several companies, employing as many as 400 people, depended on the line.
BNSF donated the line to the county, which spent $6.2 million to acquire land and build some 3.5 miles of new track. The project was financed with a combination of state grants and low-interest loans.
The new alignment went into service in January 2009.
The Geiger Spur connects to the CW Line of the state-owned Palouse River & Coulee City Railroad.