NNDA directory: Nevada mining interests ‘are dying for rail’
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The benefit of growing Nevada’s rail system was the focus of Northern Nevada Development Authority’s monthly member event on Aug. 22.
“I’m really excited about railroad. It does have an impact on your business even if you don’t have a railroad right in front of you,” said Rob Hooper, NNDA’s executive director. “Mining interests up and down central Nevada are dying for rail.”
The event at the Carson Nugget followed a rail summit at the Governor’s Mansion on Aug. 21 and preceded an Aug. 23 ribbon cutting for the arrival of Black Gold Terminals’ new locomotive, part of a $1 million investment in Northern Nevada Railport & Logistics Center in Fernley.
Nevada has 1,193 miles of rail owned by Union Pacific Railroad and also utilized by BNSF Railway.
At the NNDA luncheon, Lee Bonner, state railroad coordinator, Nevada Department of Transportation, talked about the state rail plan now underway. It includes a feasibility study looking at a Mina Thorne line extension, part of the Las Vegas to Reno line, as well as Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and Reno to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and Bay Area to Truckee, both part of an I-80 Bay Area to Reno line.
Bonner described the light rail line from downtown Shanghai to the airport, a 20-mile trip that takes seven minutes.
“If we had something like that from Reno to TRI Center it would be a game changer,” said Bonner.
Bonner said state law currently prohibits spending gas tax dollars on rail.
Jeff Moller, assistant vice president, Association of American Railroads, described private-public partnerships elsewhere, including in Chicago, that have helped spur recent railroad development.
But nothing happens overnight with the railroad industry, said Moller.
“We’re always thinking 50 years out,” he said.
“Nevada leads the nation in population growth and Washoe County experienced a 1.6% growth rate last year — over 8,000 new residents now call this area home. And this trend is not expected to end anytime soon.