As transportation has grown more important, investment is taking place in some expected and, indeed, some unexpected places. Major infrastructure hubs are upgrading facilities and infrastructure to help to improve the ability of goods to flow through their system. The goal for many of these locations is to serve as alternative ports of entry or waypoints to the traditional logistics hubs, allowing those operators to relieve congestion and mitigate the impact of increased population growth and trade on any one particular location.
Two of the largest investments are occurring in the state of Ohio, with Norfolk Southern's Rickenbacker project and CSX's National Gateway project. Both are expected to serve as alternatives for multimodal transportation, with an added benefit of mitigating the downturn in the economy by creating jobs in one of the regions most in need. Other areas, such as Toledo and Cleveland, are expected to gain through increased water traffic through the St. Lawrence.
In addition to those projects, CSX is investing additional monies into a large intermodal facility in Winter Haven, Fla. JAFZA (Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority) has created a U.S. headquarters near Orangeburg, S.C., and is working to develop a multimodal distribution concept in order to serve the rapidly growing Southeast consumer market. Such developments also provide useful solutions to community environmental concerns and demands for reduced traffic, while serving increasing and changeable consumer demand.
In Texas, Dallas, San Antonio, and the areas along the Gulf Coast are all working to increase capacity both as a means to accommodate a growing consumer base, as well as to accommodate increased container and import traffic coming over the Mexican border from the growing Mexican ports of Guaymas and Lazaro Cardenas. As container volumes shift to these ports, increased development in infrastructure for handling the entry of these containers must be developed. Union Pacific is currently developing an intermodal terminal in San Antonio expected to handle many of these consumer goods. In addition, Southern Dallas is investigating the development of logistics and supply-chain facilities and is already home to Union Pacific's Southern Dallas Intermodal Terminal, a potential BNSF intermodal facility, and the Lancaster Municipal Airport, a future cargo airport.
All in all, this is a very exciting time to be working with logistics and shipping. Shippers have rediscovered the value of diversity in their shipping options, and this rediscovery results in a host of opportunities for communities and developers in looking to accommodate these changes. Some of the communities on these lists are at the forefront of preparing for these changes and are poised to be real centers of major activity for the next quarter century.
Chris Steele is president of CWS Consulting Group LLC. He was formerly with TranSytems' real estate consulting group. With over 17 years of direct experience in real estate, location, and development advisory, he has worked with a wide range of industries and users, ranging from banks and high-tech companies through heavy industry and intermodal development.