OneRail Coalition Panel Highlights State Transportation and Rail Public-Private Partnerships
The OneRail Coalition's efforts to raise the visibility of passenger and freight rail partnerships continued with a successful panel at the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) meeting in Kansas City, KS on August 12, 2015. Panelists from BNSF Railway, Kansas DOT, the City of Edgerton, KS, Northpoint Development and SmartWarehouse spoke about the ingredients for the successful launch of BNSF's Logistics Park in Edgerton, located on the BNSF main line running in between Los Angeles/Long Beach and Chicago.
Logistics Park Kansas City (LPKC) is part of the BNSF's overall investment strategy in response to market demands for smarter shipping of consumer goods, grain and other products. The intermodal facility encompasses over 440 acres, 64,000 feet of strip tracks, and 4,300 parking spots for containers. Electrically powered wide-span cranes lessen congestion and eliminate emissions, and the automated gate technology maximizes efficiency and security. Current capacity is 500,000 lifts per year and expansion plans are underway.
To ensure good access to the Park, KSDOT and local partners Johnson County and the City of Edgerton provided nearly $80 million in local, state, and federal funding for roadway infrastructure, including a new interchange providing direct access to I-35, other connecting roads, and a grade separation.
This panel at MAASTO followed similar panels organized by OneRail at other AASHTO regional meetings, including NASTO, WASHTO, and SASHTO. Common themes of the keys to success that had emerged from previous panels were repeated on this panel, including the importance of early communication and coordination between the parties, building a working relationship, and understanding each other's needs. Other lessons learned from the panel sessions include the importance of committed funding, clearly understanding the public benefits to be achieved, and the private sector's need for an acceptable return on investment.
As a growing number of companies are looking to locate in communities with efficient rail access and service, both freight and passenger, it is in states' economic interest to have the ability to partner with private rail operators to provide the necessary rail infrastructure and roadway connections to the rail network.
OneRail believes these partnerships are win-wins for the state DOTs and their partner railroads - leveraging public funds for public benefits, improving the flow of freight, improving the rail network - adding up to better rail service for shippers, new opportunities to secure good paying jobs, safer freight movements, lower roadway maintenance costs, and reduced emissions.