ARCHIVED  October 1, 1996

I-80 industrial park promises intermodal links

EGBERT, Wyo. – Some day, a one-time wheat field in this tiny eastern Laramie County hamlet could be transformed into one of the largest intermodal transloader facilities between Chicago and Salt Lake City.The I-80 Industrial Rail Park is being carved out of farm fields along Interstate 80 and the Union Pacific Railroad about 30 miles east of Cheyenne, and promoters have high hopes of having it up and running early next year, providing a vital connecting link between industry, trucks and unit trains.
In an era when goods are moved between continents in combination of trucks, trains and intermodal containers, the I-80 Industrial Rail Park hopes to find its niche transloading products and materials from truck to train, or vice versa.
“We think we have an excellent site,´ said Mike Pell, the former Cheyenne-Laramie County development director and now chief operations officer for Mid-Continent Industrial Rail Park LLC, owner of I-80 Industrial Rail Park. “We have excellent rail, we’re a half-mile from the interstate, there’s no traffic to get to our park, and the clearance under the interstate is a trucker’s dream.”
And since finalization of the Union Pacific-Southern Pacific merger Sept. 12, interest in the rail park has intensified, Pell said. His company is now courting seven or eight prospects, including a grain elevator and a distribution firm, and hopes to cement some deals in coming months.
The rail park covers 261 acres just north of I-80 and the U.P.’s double-track east-west mainline from Chicago to Oakland and just west of U.P.’s Yoder branch, which connects to the Powder River Basin coal line.
The three-phased, three-year, $4 million development will offer 32 tracts, each 5-to-8 acres in size, to industries that transload products between trucks and trains or convert raw materials to finished products.
The I-80 Industrial Rail Park will provide continuing on-site services, including intermodal transloading, secured parking for trucks, train cars and cargo containers, and a capacity for safely controlled transfer of hazardous materials, including an on-site HazMat emergency response team.
“We see ourselves being different from most industrial parks in that most of them plat it, sell the properties, and the ownership disappears,” Pell said. “Here the ownership remains in place, with all the services and on-site management. And so when you buy into the park, you also buy into that package and that service.”
The I-80 Rail Park plans to install the largest gantry crane between Chicago and Salt Lake City and will have the capability to unload, clean and reload a 100-car unit train in just 16 hours, utilizing a parallel siding that will be built along the U.P. mainline, or break up unit trains and deliver rail cars to tenants on rail spurs.
“Basically that’s what the railroad is pushing for these days – delivery of unit trains. They’re shying away from dropping off 10 cars at a time,” he said. Tenants “can pick up their raw material, take it to their site, build whatever they’re building and return it back to the transload area for shipment, or they can retain us to do that for them. That’s part of our package.”
So far, most media attention has focused on the park’s advertised capacity to handle hazardous materials, but that’s only part of the package, and it has support from both neighbors and Laramie County officials.
“The word HazMat – everybody thinks the worst,” Pell said. But hazardous materials are everywhere, from supermarket shelves to grain elevators, and to Pell the key is control.
“It’s my belief that HazMat is not controlled,” he said. “It’s running up and down your highways, it’s running on your rail lines, and I finally wrestled it out that I’d like to have it controlled, so I know what I’m dealing with and can properly deal with it. That’s what the park’s all about.”
The park has strict covenants and has established a Design and Community Impact Committee of representatives from neighboring Burns, Pine Bluffs and Albin, the county commissioners and rail park management to screen prospective tenants. So far, only two prospects involve hazardous materials.
Most important, Pell said, transfer and storage of any hazardous materials would be temporary. “This is not a waste dump,” he emphasized. “We’re structured for temporary storage of whatever.”
The park is the brainchild of Lon Hubbard, who operated a propane storage operation adjacent to the site and decided to develop the rail park on his own. His staff includes Pell and Tom Peters, the field operations superintendent, and eventually will number about 15.
The promoters hope the park someday will be home to a diverse mix of businesses and industries that might employ hundreds of people and transload millions of dollars of products or materials in the course of a year.
For now, the park’s most distinguishing feature is a road grade named after retiring Laramie County Commissioner Nick Mirich, but by this time next year, it could offer a decidedly different appearance, and a decade from now it could change the face of eastern Laramie County.
ÿ

EGBERT, Wyo. – Some day, a one-time wheat field in this tiny eastern Laramie County hamlet could be transformed into one of the largest intermodal transloader facilities between Chicago and Salt Lake City.The I-80 Industrial Rail Park is being carved out of farm fields along Interstate 80 and the Union Pacific Railroad about 30 miles east of Cheyenne, and promoters have high hopes of having it up and running early next year, providing a vital connecting link between industry, trucks and unit trains.
In an era when goods are moved between continents in combination of trucks, trains and intermodal containers,…

Related Content