The Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is now exploring whether a Texas-based construction company is qualified to build and operate a rail transload facility in Des Moines, after a preferred bidder pulled out of the project in February.

The MPO Executive Committee today authorized the agency’s staff to move forward with pursuing its due diligence process on the Texas company, Alliance Construction Specialties. MPO Executive Director Todd Ashby said Alliance has indicated it is ready to move forward immediately to purchase the land and prepare for construction.

The long-delayed project had received approval for an $11.2 million BUILD grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in December. It had appeared on track to move forward with a Denver-based transload operator, OmniTRAX Inc., which is the second-largest U.S. operator of short-line railroads.

However, on Feb. 14, OmniTRAX notified the MPO that it was withdrawing from the project, primarily because it could not find a business partner willing to be the anchor tenant for the project. The company also expressed concerns about groundwork that needed to be completed on the site. Alliance Construction subsequently approached the MPO about the project.

Continue reading more about the transload project. Read more

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