As container ship cargos swelled over the years, the concept of the inland intermodal port or rail park caught hold like a railroad switch, steering billions of dollars’ worth of cargo and sparking millions of dollars’ worth of facility development. South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, California and Texas are among the states that have pursued this strategy. And while some are operated as public entities, not all are.
Sometimes you don’t need to be that far inland. In Effingham County, Georgia, just north of the booming Port of Savannah, A&R Logistics just signed as the lead tenant at the Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub, a 2,750-acre industrial park developed by affiliates of the railroad OmniTRAX and The Broe Group. In addition to a build-to-suit A&R facility, OmniTRAX will construct more than seven miles of park-serving rail infrastructure; a multi-customer, centrally located OmniTRAX rail yard; and a 200-plus-car dedicated rail yard for A&R. That rail infrastructure will connect park tenants to the only two Class I railroads serving the southeastern United States, CSX and Norfolk Southern.
In Texas, the 137-acre Hempstead Logistics Park, owned by McAlister Assets and operated by RCR Rail Co., recently awarded a switching and transloading contract to Kentucky-based R.J. Corman Switching Co. The park is located 50 miles northwest of Houston, between the Houston/Austin and South-Central Texas transportation corridors, providing access to the nation’s highway and rail systems via a state highway, a U.S. highway and Class I rail carrier Union Pacific.
But the ultimate example of an inland rail park and port sits about four hours to the north. That’s where Hillwood, a Perot company, founded AllianceTexas in 1989. Anchored
by Fort Worth Alliance Airport, the world’s first dedicated industrial airport, and led by Hillwood’s development of 26,000 acres, AllianceTexas is home to over 500 companies which have built more than 45 million sq. ft. and created over 61,000 jobs. Its estimated cumulative impact as the development celebrates its 30th anniversary is more than $76 billion for North Texas.
Among the logistics assets at AllianceTexas are BNSF Railway’s Alliance Intermodal Facility; two Class I rail lines (BNSF and UP); regional and ground sort hubs from FedEx; two UPS sort hubs; an Amazon Air facility, and access to I-35 as well as two Texas state highways.
Like its tenants, AllianceTexas is not stopping.
Among recent news, tile and stone installation company Schluter Systems is launchinig a new 500,000-sq.-ft. regional distribution center that will employ 300. The site joins other Schluter sites in Plattsburgh, New York; Montreal, Quebec; and Reno, Nevada. Stanley Black & Decker is opening a new 500-job tool manufacturing plant on the heels of opening a new distribution center. And proving that rail-driven development can have far-reaching effects that have nothing to do with heavy industry, American Specialty Health just leased office space in Heritage Commons IV that had previously been occupied by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, which in turn recently opened a new Fort Worth Business Center also within AllianceTexas.
Hillwood itself has purchased another 600 acres near the BNSF Railway’s Alliance Intermodal Facility in order to develop more logistics product.
“As Alliance Airport and the BNSF Railway Alliance Intermodal Facility continue to expand and strengthen the foundation for AllianceTexas’ commercial growth,” said Tony Crème, senior vice president of Hillwood, earlier this year, “this new property in Alliance Westport will serve as a strategic link between these two pieces of critical logistics infrastructure and offer unparalleled connectivity to our customers.”