NYSSA, Ore. – A proposed truck-to-rail reloading facility – a project aimed at solving the onion industry’s transportation problems in Idaho and Oregon – is expected to be built within three years, officials said.
The Oregon Legislature’s $5.3 billion transportation package passed earlier this year included $26 million for a reload facility, which is planned on a 400-acre location near the eastern Oregon town of Nyssa, the Capital Press reported.
Transportation has been a chronic problem for onion shipping companies the region, industry leaders said. Most of the onions grown in the region are sold to markets on the East Coast, but onion shippers are currently required to truck their produce west to the nearest reload facility in Wallula, Washington.
A reload facility allows shipping containers to be transferred between truck and rail.
With a reload facility nearby, the cost of shipping goes down and the produce is delivered faster, said Grant Kitamura, general manager of Baker & Murakami Produce.
“This is a major game changer for onion shippers. It will help us maintain our viability as an industry,” Kitamura said. “Transportation has been a real issue for onion shippers in Oregon and Idaho for many years, and it’s been getting worse and hopefully this will help us turn it around.”
The plans for the facility include building dry and cold storage and the infrastructure required by food processors, said Greg Smith, the director of Malheur County Economic Development.
“I think our biggest challenge is expectation. Folks want this now,” Smith said. “We want to take our time and do it correctly – not do it quickly just to meet that expectation. This facility is going to be here for 100 years.”
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