Friday, July 8, 2016

Oakland Opens Near-Dock Rail Facility

By Mark Edward Nero

On July 7, the Port of Oakland welcomed the first train to use a new, $100 million near-dock rail facility located in the port’s Outer Harbor Intermodal Terminal area, the site of a former US Army base.

The new tracks were designed as part of a strategy to enhance the port’s intermodal capabilities: the port has said it wants to attract more discretionary cargo, which isn’t local to the region and can be shipped through any number of seaports in the United States, Canada or Mexico.

The new tracks are part of a phased rail expansion. They consist of five manifest yard tracks and eight support yard tracks. Manifest yards are used for receiving rail cars that come from Class I railroads. Support yards are used for short-term storage. There are a total 39,000 linear feet of track. Warehouses and distribution centers are also envisioned on the former Army base.

The cargo on the inaugural train was originally destined for Canadian seaports. The 100-car locomotive carries agricultural products from Archer Daniels Midland Co. from the Midwestern United States and headed to Asia. The cargo is to be transferred from rail cars directly into containers by port tenant Capital River Group and delivered to the terminals for export.

The Port of Oakland says it has seen a growing market for agricultural products, especially from California’s Central and Salinas Valleys and the Midwest.

“The port envisioned a rail yard that would bring cargo through Oakland,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “This was made possible by maritime business partners such as Union Pacific Railroad and government funding partners.”

The rail yard was built using California state Trade Corridor Improvement Funds (TCIF) and federal transportation grants.