Coalition formed to promote regional cooperation, planning and shared project implementation to improve movement of rail freight.
THE Port of Quincy in central Washington is participating in a major effort to improve rail freight movement across the Great Northern Corridor.
The corridor spans the northern tier of the western U.S. -- from the Puget Sound and the Lower Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest to Chicago, Ill. -- through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Representatives from these states (including the Port of Quincy) have formed the Great Northern Corridor Coalition to promote regional cooperation, planning and shared project implementation to improve the movement of rail freight.
In the Great Northern Corridor, the Port of Quincy has a state-of-the-art intermodal terminal on the BNSF Railway mainline that runs from Seattle, Wash., to Chicago and is only a few minutes away from I-90, a major cross-country interstate freeway.
The intermodal terminal includes 10,000 ft. of track and a container maintenance and cleaning facility in close proximity to provide shippers of produce, perishable and frozen products with distribution and storage capacity in and out of Washington.
The intermodal terminal is home to the Cold Train, which was launched by Rail Logistics in early 2010 in partnership with the Port of Quincy and BNSF Railway. Since the Cold Train Express Intermodal Service was launched, it has grown rapidly in popularity with shippers in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and East Coast. Shipments of Pacific Northwest fresh produce and frozen foods on the Cold Train continue to grow at a fast pace.
The Port of Quincy is also developing an emerging reputation as a premier location for produce packing and frozen processing and perishable and frozen food shipping and distribution, especially given the port's location in the heart of the major fresh produce growing region of central Washington.
According to a recent study of 29 western U.S. and Canadian locations with intermodal connections to regional markets, Quincy ranked as the lowest-cost location for operating a distribution center or a warehouse.
"Perishable shippers that utilize the Port of Quincy Intermodal Terminal rely on the Great Northern Corridor to move Washington state fresh produce and frozen foods by intermodal rail to 20 states in the Midwest and East Coast," said Patric Connelly, Port of Quincy commissioner. "This interconnected system of rail, highways and ports is vital to shippers in Washington state and other states along the Great Northern Corridor."
Currently, more than 203 million tons of freight per year move across the corridor, which is a complex rail freight transportation network that directly serves 27 million Americans and goes across hundreds of miles of critical agricultural areas in Washington and also through many other states.
If the Great Northern Corridor did not exist, that huge volume of freight that currently moves by rail would have to travel by long-haul truck, and it would take approximately 4.8 million long-haul trucks annually to move that much freight.
The Great Northern Corridor Coalition is working to strengthen the corridor in order to promote economic growth for neighboring communities and accommodate the demand for safe, efficient and environmentally sound transportation services.
The first step of the coalition's process is underway: conducting a "strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats" (SWOT) analysis to identify opportunities to improve the operations and infrastructure along the corridor.
The study will be conducted by Olsson Associates, Parsons Brinckerhoff and The Beckett Group, with funding through the Federal Highway Administration Multistate Corridor Operations & Management Program as well as from coalition partners, including the Port of Quincy.
The next step to strengthening the corridor will be using the results from the SWOT analysis to develop viable strategies and projects that will improve multimodal transportation system management and operations. The analysis is expected to be completed by this fall, with an analysis of identified projects and initiatives beginning immediately thereafter.