OLYMPIA — A bill authored by 18th District Rep. Liz Pike that could open the door for new jobs along short-line railroads in Clark County and Eastern Washington passed the Senate, 41-8, Wednesday.
House Bill 1504 would make changes under the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) to allow new businesses that need large parcels to locate along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Clark County and other short-line railroads in Eastern Washington.
“This bill is needed because in Clark County and all over the state, the availability of rail-served land is scarce. I’ve been working hard on this issue for the past two years because our own Columbia River Economic Development Council was forced to turn away four new companies who wanted to locate here. Under the current Growth Management Act, these parcels don’t exist,” said Pike, R-Camas.
“The first company needed at least 200 acres with rail access that would have created 6,500 new manufacturing jobs in Clark County. The second was looking for at least 150 acres with rail access to provide up to 500 jobs. Another needed 100 acres with rail access to provide 308 new jobs in the first year with an option to expand on 250 acres and 1,104 jobs by year six. And the fourth company wanted 100 acres with 200,000 square feet of rail service to bring 250 new jobs to our community,” noted Pike. “That’s thousands of new jobs turned away in our local area because the GMA wouldn’t allow it. This measure will help bring these new manufacturing jobs to Southwest Washington.”
The bill would change the law to allow agricultural, forest and mineral resource lands adjacent to short-line railroads to be developed for freight-rail dependent uses in Clark County and Eastern Washington.
Pike said the bill was slightly amended in the Senate, so it must return to the House for concurrence. Once that happens, it will be sent to the governor.
“This measure will open the door to new opportunities and bring hundreds, maybe thousands of jobs to our communities across Washington state. That means more money in the form of paychecks that will stimulate our local economy,” added Pike.
Information provided by Washington State House Republican Communications.