Between 1995 and 2005, BNSF either built new or expanded 14 different intermodal facilities on its network. Between 1995 and 2006, it added more than 1,000 miles (1,609 km.) of new main track to its existing right- of- way, equal to about half the distance between Los Angeles and Chicago. By the end of 2008, says Forsberg, the railroad will have finished the double- tracking of the entire L.A.- Chicago route. The railroad's total capital spending on infrastructure, facilities and locomotives between 2002 and 2006 was nearly $10 billion between 2002 and 2006.
That kind of expenditure is one reason BNSF Chairman, President and CEO Matt Rose wrote to the Surface Transportation Board in July that the railroad did not anticipate capacity issues for the remainder of 2006, including peak season. But he did not hesitate to say that railroad investment alone may not be enough to meet forecast long- term demand. "That's why I continue to believe that we need a stimulus such as the proposed 25- percent investment tax credit," he wrote in the letter to the STB.
Forsberg points out that Gardner is a bit different than the company's logistics park project in Chicago, which opened in 2002, as that project was spearheaded by developer CenterPoint and was situated on former military property. He says the fact that BNSF pioneered the logistics park concept has in part contributed to the Gardner project's early fast pace. But the way the pioneer began was by accident.
"We really stumbled across the first one with Hillwood," he says. "They and we were trying to build something else. They had built this freight airport and thought that would attract tenants. Santa Fe initially was a tenant and had an auto facility, and they noticed the intermodal facility was the magnet for drawing business into that area. That led to Logistics Park Chicago at Elwood.
"Our economic development department believes there is a need for 10 to 11 of them on our network in the western two- thirds of the U.S.," says Forsberg. And this is where the Asian connection comes into play yet again:
"The Chinese minister of railways has toured ours multiple times, and has announced plans to do 16 to 18 of them in China as a way to push production in from the coasts."
BNSF has signed a memorandum of understanding with that ministry as an advisor.
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