EDGERTON, Kan. (AP) -- A new intermodal hub where as many as 1.5 million containers a year will be transferred from trains to trucks is expected to enhance the Kansas City region's status as an important national center for distribution of goods.
The formal opening Thursday of BNSF Railway's Logistics Park Kansas City attracted about 350 civic leaders and guests, including Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, to the 443-acre site near Interstate 35 in the Johnson County town of Edgerton.
A new interchange to accommodate the center was built at a cost of $36 million and will help freshly-loaded trucks quickly begin carrying goods to destinations nationwide, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/19RJjrF).
BNSF Railway first considered the project about a decade ago. A master plan calls for it to grow eventually to 1,550 acres.
The hub is now dominated by five 90-foot-tall electric cranes, each 276 feet long and weighing 1.6 million pounds, that hoist containers off BNSF trains and place them on tractor-trailers. Some of the containers are stored for later redistribution in what is expected to be 8 million square feet of warehouse space built during the first phase.
NorthPoint Development already has built a 326,000-square-foot distribution building for Demdaco, a Leawood, Kan.-based importer of household gift and decorative items, and has started a 500,000-square-foot speculative distribution center.
Initially, the center will handle about 500,000 containers from BNSF trains arriving from the West Coast. The planned addition of three more cranes will raise capacity to 1.5 million containers.
BNSF chairman and CEO Matt Rose said the logistics park approach to intermodal shipping has been a big boost to the railroad industry.
"Twenty years ago, developers would have been focused on utilities and tax abatements," he said. "Today, it's access to transportation and railroads that drive that upfront.
"Most of our highways were built in the 1960s and 1970s, and there's been little new investment. This intermodal facility allows for more tons to be moved by railroads and also provides more work for truckers. It's a win-win."
Kansas City's location makes it attractive for intermodal facilities because trucks can reach most points in the U.S. within two days.
On the Missouri side of the Kansas City metro area, Kansas City Southern's rail lines anchor the 370-acre CenterPoint-Kansas City Southern Intermodal Center at the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base south of Kansas City. The hub is adjacent to a 940-acre industrial park.