The Port of Vancouver, USA, Boise Cascade and the BNSF Railway Company today closed a three-way land-exchange agreement that facilitates closing of the Columbia Waterfront LLC purchase of the Boise Cascade property on the Vancouver waterfront.

The land exchange agreement conveys 2.9 acres of port property located adjacent to the east end of the Boise mill site to Boise Cascade, and conveys approximately 3.6 acres of property along the north and west boundary of the mill site to the port. That property will be used as its rail right of way. Access easements are granted by both parties, and are included in the exchange agreement.

Port commissioners declared the port’s 2.9 acres as surplus, no longer needed for Port District purposes in April of 2006.

The BNSF Railway Company conveys 0.99 acres of property located internal to the mill site to Boise in the exchange agreement.

‘This is really an agreement that is bigger than the sum of its parts,’ said the port’s Executive Director Larry Paulson. ‘It serves the port, our partners, our customers, and the community.

‘Without this land exchange, it would have been significantly more difficult, and expensive, to remove the rail spur from the Boise property so that it could be developed.’

Funding for the West Vancouver Freight Access rail project is provided by parties including the port, $4.7 million from the Federal Government, which Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) helped assure, and $2.5 million from the state of Washington, approved last year by the Washington Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The port needed the property exchange in order to develop its $75 million-$100 million rail project, which will help the Columbia Waterfront LLC’s development of the waterfront by eliminating that rail spur. Columbia Waterfront LLC, a group of private investors, envisions transforming the Boise land into an urban neighborhood of condominiums, waterfront retail and restaurants, office space and possibly a new hotel.

‘This has been a long journey spanning more than 24 months,’ said the port’s Director of Facilities Curtis Shuck, another key member of the port’s negotiating team. ‘We have been assisted along the way by a true team-effort like no other. The City of Vancouver, Boise White Paper, LLC, BNSF Railway Company, Washington State Department of Transportation and Gramor Development have all been major players.’

The port’s rail alignment will improve access for freight trains serving the port while reducing congestion on the national rail network where it runs through Vancouver. The port has allocated $13.7 million for Schedule One construction, which will build the rail line from roughly Columbia Boulevard west to LaFarge Cement and Albina Fuel and Asphalt.

In addition, the port’s project will contribute to a related rail project by the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Moving the port’s current rail crossing will enable WSDOT’s upcoming Vancouver Bypass passenger rail line to flow more freely through this congested area.

When all phases of the WVFA are complete (expected in 2011), the port’s rail entrance and exit will cross under the existing rail bridge over the Columbia River, instead of running across the north-south mainline, and will help reduce rail congestion in Vancouver by more than 40 percent, even by 2025 standards.