Pima County and Port of Tucson obtain grant to enhance domestic, international shipping; boost economic developmentTuesday, September 10th, 2013
The federal government has awarded Pima County and the Port of Tucson a $5 million grant that will enhance businesses’ direct rail access to West and Gulf Coast ports and help position this region as a major transportation hub. Of nearly 600 applications, fewer than 10 percent were selected for funding through the TIGER 2013 grant program.
The Port of Tucson is an “inland port,” an unfamiliar concept to many, so here are answers to a few common questions.
1) We live in a desert, with no sea in sight. What exactly is an inland port? Who needs water? The Port of Tucson is a facility that allows standardized shipping containers to be unloaded directly from ships in the ports of Long Beach Los Angeles onto rail and transported to Tucson. No longer do international shipments from Asia, for example, have to be unloaded onto trucks at the port for transport over highways. That means lower handling costs for companies, but it also reduces truck traffic and its associated costs. An 80-car, double-stacked train, for example, takes 160 trucks off the highway. Better yet for companies, it costs about the same to ship a container all the way from China to Tucson by rail as it does to truck a container from Long Beach to Nogales.
2) Why does it matter for the region? We have 140 miles of opportunity in the Sun Corridor, which stretches from Pima County to Maricopa County and will have 85 percent of the state’s population and 90 percent of the jobs. We have the advantages of an international airport, border access, interstate highways and rail systems – all key ingredients for economic growth and the region’s emergence as a transportation hub. The Port, which already receives boxcars of Mexican beer and trainloads of pipelines, military equipment and other commercial shipments, opens global markets for manufacturers and exporters and is one more way for the region’s businesses to ship to customers efficiently and at competitive rates.
3) What exactly will the grant do? Think of the Union Pacific rail as a highway that runs right alongside the Port of Tucson at Interstate 10 and Kolb Road. Right now, trains entering the Port have to practically slow to a stop, causing delays for other trains and for motorists who have to wait for the cars to pass. The grant will allow for the equivalent of an “off-ramp” that will eliminate the need to slow and stop arriving trains.
4) What is Pima County’s interest in the project? Pima County has invested more than $168 million in transportation improvements in the southern corridor of the community, as part of Pima County’s vision to link the major employment centers on the south side. The development of the Port facility will require 40 heavy construction workers and the completed project should provide jobs for 100 logistic workers when the facility is fully operational. More importantly, the facility will serve as a catalyst for the development of additional jobs throughout the region, including in local warehouses and distribution centers.
For more information about the port, please visit: http://www.portoftucson.net/