One of the main selling-points for the Prince Rupert port is the railway connection between Fairview Terminal down and Chicago and all the different markets that can be found in the mid-west United States, and plans are now underway in the Chicago area to expand a facility for loading and unloading trains to take advantage of the railway connection to Prince Rupert; a project that could ship 1-million containers to and from Fairview Terminal.
The Chicago Southland Development Corporation (CSDC) is hoping to expand an existing “intermodal logistics park” in the Chicago area, which is used by CN Rail, for its operations there. The CSDC hopes to improve the logistics park in time for completion of the phase II expansion of Fairview Terminal which is expected, to begin sometime over the next year.
Reggie Greenwood is the Director of Economic Development for the CSDC. He says the hope is that an improved intermodal park will convince local businesses to use Prince Rupert as a more convenient way of getting products into the midwest instead of using facilities owned by the Union Pacific or BNSF railways, which are farther away in the county.
“What we are promoting is to help companies recognize that the expansion of the building and the subsequent expansion of the Prince Rupert port provides companies with an alternative to get products into the mid-west,” said Greenwood.
Greenwood says that he hopes to sell businesses on the idea based on Prince Rupert itself; the fact that CN’s intermodal park sits close to, but not actually inside the city of Chicago, which will make moving products to and from it easier; and that it has access to the interstate and a four-way interchange. The biggest roadblock to the project, says Greenwood, is that the CN intermodal park is located inside suburbs.
“It’s not like you’re out in a corn field where you go buy a thousand acres of land and build five-million feet of industrial space. There are issues with building in a suburb. But there are plusses, which are that all the infrastructure is mostly here,” said Greenwood.
According to Greenwood, the facility would be a win-win for everyone involved. Not only would the facility increase the amount of container traffic coming through Prince Rupert, the CSDC is hoping that it will create jobs in the Chicago suburbs.
The project is still in its early stages because the CSDC hasn’t found a company who wants to fund the expansion of the intermodal park yet, but once its done, Greenwood says he hopes to see it moving a million containers to and from Prince Rupert.
“We’re making great progress, we’re raising money, doing studies, we’re working closely with CN. We haven’t built anything new yet, but a lot of people are seriously looking at it,” says Greenwood.
Greenwood hasn’t been up to Prince Rupert to talk about the project yet, but hopes to come up in the near future.