A state committee has selected seven finalists for a proposed Kansas transload shipping center. The Kansas Department of Transportation and Kansas Turnpike Authority Transload Facility Site Analysis team selected locations in Abilene, Concordia, El Dorado, Garden City, Great Bend and an industrial park south of Parsons, and Norton, from 111 proposals submitted for consideration.
According to a KDOT press release, transloading is the process of moving goods from one mode of transportation to another, or in this case, from truck to rail and rail to truck.
“A transload facility has the potential to not only lower shipping costs, it is a job creator and provides economic development opportunities for the export of Kansas products,” said Mike King, Secretary of Transportation and Director of the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
Edgerton Mayor Donald Roberts told The Gardner News last fall that he would argue the Edgerton intermodal already accomplishes that.
For example, Roberts told the newspaper last fall that grain exporter, the DeLong Company, a tenant at LPKC, is already lowering transportation costs for Kansas farmers.
“With DeLong, we’ve already given people an avenue to do container grain exports,” Roberts said. “We’ve made the farmer or the co-op trip a third shorter than it was prior to the intermodal in Edgerton? How much more can you knock off that trip?”
John Maddox, freight and rail program manager at KDOT, said a transloading facility is very similar to an intermodal.
“It’s really just a scaled down version of an intermodal facility,” Maddox said.
Roberts told The Gardner News last fall he believes such a facility would pose direct competition to the BNSF intermodal in Edgerton.
A transload facility, according to a KDOT press release, blends the benefits of shipping by rail and short or local haul trucking. The project “can provide more flexible and cost-effective solutions for customers who may not have local access to freight rail service or those who need expanded warehousing.”
Maddox said an intermodal’s prime focus is containers and transloading is a smaller scale version of that and could have a more specific focus. For example, he said a transload
facility could focus on construction materials and include a yard for steel, pipe or other aggregates, or it could be agricultural and store and transport grain, fertilizer or farm implements.
“Or it could be multi-use,” Maddox said. “There could be a warehouse, an oil transfer point, and things like that. It generally has a broader use at the facility itself, whereas the intermodal is mostly rail-to-truck, truck-to-rail and then around it, you see the distribution centers.”
State officials anticipate a new transloading facility will be constructed and operational in in the state within 12-18 months. Maddox said funding for a new transload facility has not yet been determined and may not be announced when the site selection committee announces the winning location.
Though KDOT and a state freight advisory committee, which met four times last year, is driving the effort to build a transload facility somewhere in Kansas, KDOT may not have the funds for the project. Last week, state officials announced $62 million in additional cuts to balance Kansas’ budget. Included in those cuts? Approximately $8 million from KDOT’s budget.
Maddox said transload facility funding will be a topic of discussion for the site selection committee.
“The concept would be a public, private partnership,” Maddox said. He would not discuss details, however.
“I really can’t discuss that because a decision and an announcement hasn’t been made,” Maddox said.
He also did not name members of the site selection committee. Members are not elected officials, he said.
“(Members) were from a variety of private sector disciplines where these folks were essentially experts in their field,” Maddox said.
For example, he said experts in banking, finance and human relations are involved as members of the site selection committee.
“To have a successful facility, there’s a variety of disciplines that have to be in place to make it work, whether that be banking, whether that be finance, human relations, that type of thing,” he said.
The site selection committee will announce the location for a transload facility in late August.
State announces finalists for project that could compete with intermodal