Rail yard expansion

Expansion of a rail yard west of Caldwell, Idaho, targets substantially higher volumes of agricultural commodities.

Construction crews Jan. 6 started expanding a southwest Idaho rail yard to allow it to handle more agricultural commodities.

Rob and Nancy Roberts own the 13-acre Doles yard on the south side of State Highway 19 between Caldwell and Greenleaf. The addition of track and other infrastructure is expected to substantially increase the volume of cottonseed and distiller’s grain the yard handles for the area’s growing dairy industry and position the yard to handle additional crops.

“As this gets finished, cottonseed will more than quadruple in loads per day,” Rob Roberts said.

“Some of the unloading is split between a couple of different cities, and it will be consolidated here in terms of the dairy industry,” he said. “That will make it more efficient, with more cars per day.”

He expects Watco Cos. unit Boise Valley Railroad to substantially increase the number of cars it moves between the Caldwell site and the Union Pacific Railroad yard in nearby Nampa.

Crews are adding a second rail siding running the length of the Doles property. It is expected to cost about $1.8 million. Plans call for significantly expanding the unloading pit, and later this year starting construction of two large buildings to replace open-air unloading facilities used for bulk agricultural products. A third siding will eventually be built.

Roberts said the buildings will enable the yard to handle hops and onions — two of the area’s high-volume crops — giving producers an alternative to trucking.

How Doles would be impacted by Treasure Valley Reload Center, a truck-to-train facility planned in nearby Nyssa, Ore., with state funding, remains to be seen, he said.

Rob and Nancy Roberts own R&M Steel Co., a large manufacturer in Caldwell. R&M uses the Doles yard, the expansion of which diversifies its freight lineup.

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