The recent article written in American Shipper entitled US Class 1 Railroads Eye Intermodal Lane Opportunities highlights evolving market changes that are causing new intermodal market interest from the Class 1 railroads. GLDPartners sees this opportunity first-hand from the perspective of our client supply chain work & in our project investment work around several going and proposed inland port projects. This is not a static time in the North American continental ground transport and logistics space, those that suggest otherwise are not paying attention. Contributing factors in this period of churn include: 1) high uncertainly around global trade volumes & specifically US-China trade, resulting from range of dramatic changes including trade agreement instability, the rise in protectionist trade polices generally, the likelihood of serious implications associated with the coronavirus, declines in coal production, driver & operating trucking cost challenges, etc.
Coupled with the rapid refinements regarding wider railroad business strategy, we feel that there are new opportunities. These opportunities are reflected in our current intermodal inland port projects in California, Utah and an inland port project evaluation in Michigan.
- In California, we are working on a feasibility assessment for a port-to-inland district project – connecting the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to a 425 miles-long district through the Central Valley region to include the Sacramento and Bay Area markets. This region has 14.2M people and generates over 1.1M container loads every year – all of it moving via truck today over congested highways and generating tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases. If it can pencil out, the benefits of an intermodal rail product in this market would be tremendous – in highway congestion relief, vastly reduced highway maintenance and in this region huge reductions in pollutants – this in an area that has some of the worst air quality in the US. An intermodal rail connection to this market district would vastly increased the economic competitiveness of a region that, throughout the Central Valley region has significantly lagged the rest of the State.
- Utah has boldly launched a 5,000 acre inland port on a site in Salt Lake City. This site includes the new $4B Salt Lake City International Airport (under construction right now) and a Union Pacific Railroad intermodal facility. The port district is bisected by Interstate 90, so the Inland Port boasts remarkable trimodal connectivity. GLDPartners worked with the State of Utah and the Utah World Trade Center to develop the project feasibility analysis two years ago. The State’s newly minted Inland Port Authority is aiming to oversee the development of the project with private partners, with strategic investments to advance the Port as a next-generation logistics and manufacturing hub. The UIPA is working to position the Port as the most operationally efficient and greenest logistics hub in the world and GLDPartners Mobility Solutions is working with the Port Authority to develop their project and investment strategy in this regard including a focus on: new logistics management technologies (autonomy, propulsion/powertrain) and connected vehicle/terminal applications.
- GLDPartners is working with Business Leaders for Michigan to develop a statewide logistics project investment plan, to include several projects which are seen as core to the State’s economic competitiveness. This includes a new inland port/intermodal hub project in West Michigan in the Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo region and an integrated intermodal hub in Detroit, connected to the new $5.7B Gordie Howe Bridge, where the current border crossing the is busiest in North America in terms of trade value. Michigan is a powerful industrial economy, but is located off of the main east-west North American logistics routes. These projects would enhance ground cargo transportation efficiency, especially to longer-haul supply chain and logistics points (to California seaports for example for Asian trade). Business Leaders for Michigan is an important statewide business entity that represents the largest 80 companies in the state, including General Motors, Bissell, Ford Motor, Penske, Nexteer, Dawn Foods, Steelcase, Meijer, Wolverine Worldwide, Stryker, Whirlpool, Herman Miller, Lear Corporation and Amway.
About Global Logistics Development Partners: GLDPartners is a recognized global authority around a range of supply chain, transportation. competitiveness, infrastructure finance and delivery & technology solutions. The company is based in the US and its work is global, with projects in North America, Europe and Asia. GLDPartners Mobility Solutions specializes in state and regional mobility strategy, including smart city applications, corporate partnerships, testing and development facilities, infrastructure project development, and mobility technology sector economic development strategies.