Local news

Fairchild tracks removal to cost county more

TUESDAY, OCT. 18, 2011, 7:14 P.M.

Spokane County’s duty to remove railroad tracks from Fairchild Air Force Base will cost almost $252,000 more than expected.

Assistant County Engineer Chad Coles told commissioners today that the soil under the tracks is contaminated with creosote and must be hauled off to a special landfill.

Additional excavation, testing and disposal at Waste Management’s nearby Graham Road Recycling & Disposal Facility will increase the project cost by more than half, to $751,777, from $457,215.

Fairchild officials helped the county get a $500,000 grant to do the work, and Coles wasn’t optimistic about getting more federal money. He said his preliminary inquiries indicated “there’s no room at the inn.”

Nevertheless, commissioners directed him to try again. If the effort fails, the money will have to come from the county’s general fund reserves. Department heads already are pleading for relief from budget cuts they’ve been told to expect.

Commissioners questioned the need to spend $30,000 on landscaping the ground where the track was located at the front edge of the air base.

“We agreed to do that, but that’s when we had money to do it,” Coles said.

The county’s obligation to remove the abandoned track springs from commissioners’ decision in 2004 to take over the former Burlington Northern spur line to save up to 400 rail-dependent jobs.

The Air Force wanted the rail line removed from the base for security reasons, and Burlington Northern planned to abandon it. Instead, the county realigned the spur in a $6.7 million project that was almost completely paid with state money.

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