Intermodal projects take shape throughout regionWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Several projects are under way to put Northwest Ohio on top of the intermodal throne.
“We have to take advantage of our location,” said Michael Stolarczyk, president and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “Toledo is in a better position to provide intermodal services because of its location and different forms of existing transportation.
“Toledo has always built and shipped products — intermodal is not new here,” he said. “We need to find a model that works for us and our business partners.”
Stolarczyk said intermodal transportation involves the shipment of freight in a container or vehicle using multiple modes of transportation like air, rail, ships and trucks.
The method reduces handling costs, can improve security, reduce damage or loss and may allow for quicker transport, he said.
The port authority and Midwest Terminals are developing the 180-acre Ironville site on the east bank of the Maumee River to increase the amount of goods shipped by sea. Work has begun on the $18.2 million project that will include public grain bins with conveyor systems, in addition to a Norfolk Southern rail loop and concrete service road.
The port authority has received a $5 million Job Reality Site grant and $7.5 million in stimulus funds from the state of Ohio. It also applied for $2.9 million in federal stimulus funds. MidWest Terminal has committed $1.6 million toward the project.
The port authority will also receive $21 million in federal stimulus funding for two other projects. It was awarded $15 million for the modernization of the Toledo Shipyard operated by Ironhead Marine Inc. The improvements will prepare the facility for future business.
Another $6.8 million was awarded for the purchase of a new high-speed crane and reach stacker for the Port of Toledo. The crane will handle twice the workload as the current cranes in the seaport with the ability to move 20 to 35 containers and 40 swings for bulk material per hour.
Last summer, the Port of Toledo signed an agreement with Melford International Terminal in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for development of a new cargo container shipping facility. Melford’s is planning the Atlantic Gateway Initiative project for container shipping through the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes.
“We can start moving containers before Melford,” Stolarczyk said. “We need to find partners in Halifax, Montreal and Thunder Bay in Canada to move containers on barges.”
Toledo is looking to work with Canadian ports because of restrictions established by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. Also known as the Jones Act, it restricts the movement of goods or passengers between U.S. ports to U.S.-built and -flagged ships.
“If we could ship 12,000 containers a year or 1,000 a month, it would be unbelievable for this area,” Stolarczyk said.
“We want to create a supply chain where we get touches of cargo in the middle,” he said. “The supply chain needs to evolve and that’s hard to achieve. It has to be a collaborative effort.”
Several projects at Toledo Express Airport are also under way, including the expansion of cargo facilities to make the airport more competitive for national and international business, according to Paul Toth, interim airport director.
Schenker Logistics, parent company of Bax Global, is investing $1 million to expand a cross-dock facility for loading and offloading trucks and expanding the U.S. Customs facilities at the airport. The Lucas County Improvement Corporation has applied for $7 million in federal funding for the projects, Toth said.