October 30, 2014

BNSF announces contractors for intermodal project

Corbin H. Crable

chcrable@gardnernews.com

OVERLAND PARK — BNSF Railway Co. has announced the names of the contractors that will take the long-discussed concept of the intermodal facility and finally turn it into a reality.

BNSF President Matt Rose on Monday announced that T.J. Lambrecht Construction and Walsh Construction have been awarded a joint contract to build the 443-acre Edgerton facility. Rose joined Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson and Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller in making the announcement at a press conference at Johnson County Community College. The college is home to the National Academy of Railroad Sciences.

Rose said he was glad to present the civil contractors to Monday’s crowd, which included Johnson County Chairman Annabeth Surbaugh, Gardner Mayor Dave Drovetta, Edgerton Mayor Don Roberts and Johnson County Community College President Terry Calaway.

“I’m excited to announce the finality of moving this project forward,” Rose said.

That finality, however, won’t arrive until BNSF issues its notice to proceed with the project. That is expected to happen by Dec. 31, after which time officials can break ground on the facility.

Rose said the construction of the intermodal itself will create an estimated 650 short-term construction jobs, while the creation of jobs related to ancillary businesses likely will number in the thousands.

“This will make us beachfront property in the state of Kansas,” said Transportation Secretary Miller, who added that she, like Rose, once doubted whether the intermodal project would ever come to fruition.

Miller also announced that the $35 million grant from the state’s Rail Assistance Program has been finalized, and that the funds will be repaid using the state’s utilities sales tax generated from the intermodal facility itself.

Miller, along with Kansas Gov. Parkinson, thanked a host of officials involved in the project, including Skip Kalb, BNSF director of strategic development, and Rose, whom Parkinson described as “visionary.”

Parkinson said now is the ideal time for the construction of such a large-scale facility in the state of Kansas. He cited drops in the state’s unemployment rate, and a large surplus in the state’s budget.

“I said (two years ago), ‘Let’ s not just survive during this recession – let’s prosper,” Parkinson said. “It makes sense for this to be in Kansas.”

Some Edgerton city officials in attendance questioned why Monday’s press conference took place in Overland Park and not in Edgerton itself.

“I’m really let down,” council member Heidi Wiseman said. “It seems like no one knows this is an Edgerton project.”

Ken Gillespie said he also was disappointed, but both he and Wiseman said they believed the press conference took place at the college because it hosts BNSF’s main training facility in the area.

Edgerton Mayor Don Roberts, meanwhile, said he felt optimistic about the future of the intermodal facility and logistics park.

“I’m excited about our future,” he said. “I’m ready to break ground.”

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