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Local bid for new freight transfer facility still alive
new deh transload facility udate pic 1
Tracks owned by K&O Railroad pass through the Great Bend Municipal Airport and Industrial Park area west of town. The area may also be home to a new freight transload shipping facility. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 Great Bend remains on track for a new train-truck shipping hub following this the announcement this week of the seven finalists for a proposed Kansas transload shipping center. 

The Kansas Department of Transportation/Kansas Turnpike Authority Transload Facility Site Analysis Committee selected the finalists from the 111 proposals submitted for consideration. Some communities submitted multiple sites. 

The other finalists include Abilene, Concordia, Eldorado (Refinery Road site), Garden City (U.S. 50 Industrial Park), Great Bend, Great Plains Industrial Park just south of Parsons and Norton.

The selection committee will hear presentations from the finalists later this month and a final selection is expected in late August in Topeka. Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters and Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington will make their plea on July 31.

“We made the final seven which is very exciting,” Peters said. “We’ve been working on this for a very, very long time.”

She said the city’s bid looks pretty good. “We’re going to put our best foot forward.”

They are going for a regional approach by garnering support from surrounding communities. They will also tout Great Bend’s central location.

Great Bend has worked with K&O Railroad which owns the track in the Great Bend Industrial Park where the facility would be located. The railroad is a subsidiary of Watco Companies LLC of Pittsburg.

“They have just been so helpful throughout all of this,” Peters said. “They have been great partners.

“We have a good rail system,” she said. “We just take it for granted.” 

There will need to be upgrades to roads as well as railroads, but the basics are already in place. “This is about maximizing all forms of infrastructure,” Peters said. 

Transloading is the process of moving goods from one mode of transportation to another, or in this case, from truck to rail and rail to truck. By blending the benefits of shipping by rail and local/short haul trucking, a transload facility offers a flexible and cost-effective solution for customers who may not have local access to freight rail service or those who need expanded warehousing. “I’m pleased that so many communities in every region of the state submitted proposals,” said Mike King, secretary of transportation and director of the Kansas Turnpike Authority. “A transload facility has the potential to not only lower shipping costs, it is a job creator and provides economic development opportunities for the export of Kansas products.” 

The KDOT committee began developing evaluation criteria in February. At that time, it had its initial meeting with national consultant HDR Inc., which was hired to conduct the study.

“The need for transloading facilities was identified by the state’s Freight Advisory Committee in August,” King said. “Transportation typically makes up 15 percent of product cost so anything we can do to lower that is important to Kansas farmers, manufacturers and the state economy.” The HDR study is expected to be completed later this year.

The committee advises KDOT and the KTA on issues, needs and priorities that impact multimodal freight transportation and freight-related industries. The committee’s efforts will be in coordination with a study being conducted by HDR, Inc. The overall goal of the study is to provide KDOT with detailed information and analyses to identify the most promising transload facility locations in Kansas.