Rail - Port of Moses Lake/Northern Columbia Basin RR Engineering and Environmental


The Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project is a proposed rail construction project to promote economic development in the Moses Lake area. The purpose of the proposed Northern Columbia Basin Railroad (NCBR) Project is to provide rail service to lands designated for industrial development in the northern part of the City of Moses Lake as well as to the south and east of the Grant County International Airport (GCIA), to enhance opportunities for economic development, and to attract new rail-dependent businesses to those areas. The Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project Feasibility Study (pdf 5.4 mb)was conducted in 2006.

The Final Environmental Assessment (pdf 3.6 mb) was issued in May 2009 and submitted to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) for decision. The STB issued their decision later that year, giving permission for Segments 1, 2 and 3 of the project to go ahead, subject to the mitigation elements contained in their ruling. Below is further environmental documentation:


Why is WSDOT studying and engineering rail improvements in the Moses Lake area?

The Port of Moses Lake and other local groups believe that rail improvements in the area will support economic development and attract new rail-dependent businesses to Moses Lake.

The Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to work with the Port of Moses Lake and the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) to develop the required environmental documents for this project. The agencies began the environmental review process in spring 2007. Following the July 2007 public open house, the project team continued to gather information and analyze the results. In November 2008, the Preliminary Environmental Assessment was issued for public review and comment. The final environmental document was completed in 2009. 

The End Result

The proposed project includes the construction of two new rail lines (Segments 1 and 2) and the acquisition and refurbishment of an existing rail segment (Segment 3) to provide rail access to land designated and zoned for industrial use along Wheeler Road (Road 2 NE) and the GCIA.

The Northern Columbia Basin Railroad project includes the following:

  • Segment 1 - Building a new rail line between the Wheeler community and Parker Horn (a water body, an arm of Moses Lake) or Crab Creek to join the existing line Segment 3. This will allow trains to bypass downtown Moses Lake;
  • Segment 2 - Extending the existing track that currently terminates just south of GCIA, to the industrial lands located east of the airport;
  • Segment 3 - Refurbishing the existing track between Parker Horn and GCIA.


Project Benefits

  • The proposed project could attract new industries to the Moses Lake area and support regional economic development.
  • Shipping by rail could minimize the added wear and tear on state roadways caused each year by thousands of heavy truckloads.


What is the project timeline?

  • At the request of local legislators, WSDOT completed a feasibility study for the project in 2006.
  • WSDOT and the STB completed the Preliminary Environmental Assessment in November 2008.
  • Following the Open House on November 20, 2008 and review of the comments received, WSDOT and the STB completed the Final Environmental Assessment in May 2009.
  • The STB authorized construction in 2009.
  • Final design for Segment 2 was complete in May 2011.


Financial Information
Funding for this project comes from:

2003 Transportation Funds (Multi-modal account) - $2 million


Financial Data for PIN 724810B
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $1,990
CWA $0
Total $1,990


How can I get more information?

Freight Systems Division
PO Box 47407
Olympia, WA 98504-7407