BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The city of Boise and a local railroad are looking into building a shipping facility to boost commerce between the northern Rocky Mountain region and other areas, including ports in California and Washington.
Officials from Idaho's capital city and Boise Valley Railroad say they'll study the feasibility of such a project, slated to cost between $2 million and $5 million. Boise may spend about $20,000 on the study.
The Idaho Statesman reports at least one company, the Twin Falls cheese manufacturing unit of Irish-based Glanbia Plc, is touting the benefits of an intermodal facility in southwestern Idaho. Glanbia now ships some 75 percent of its dry whey overseas, with a sidetrip on trucks to an intermodal facility in Salt Lake City required before it's sent on to ports in Seattle or Los Angeles.
That adds about 800 miles to the trip.
"There are also quite a few shippers from this area that ship internationally, so I am sure it would be a huge benefit to them also," said Janice Claire, Glanbia Foods logistics manager. "I hope something works out on it."
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is among Idaho government officials who believe the state needs to upgrade rail facilities with an intermodal shipping site to stay competitive.
Idaho and Wyoming are the only states in the West without intermodal facilities, and Bieter says his city's industrial park, with convenient freeway, air and rail access, is a good place to build.
"Being able to handle all those different modes of transportation in a central location is really going to position us well," he said.
According to its partnership pact with Boise, the railroad company would provide service and maintenance for all 18.2 miles of the city-owned rail. That would allow businesses located in the city's East Gateway Industrial Park and elsewhere along the route access to freight rail service.
Boise Valley Railroad also would upgrade the city's track, allowing trains to travel at higher speeds. Doing so would provide a potential testing track for MotivePower, a locomotive manufacturing and maintenance unit of Pennsylvania-based Wabtec Corp. MotivePower has a 50-acre plant in southeastern Boise.
Bieter says such an intermodal site would help the region's so-called "green economy." One train can carry the load of 280 or more trucks.
"Its potential is really so considerable," he said. "The greenness of it, the efficiency of how much more freight they can haul with so much less fuel."
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com
Copyright 2010 The AP.