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Great Bend waiting for KDOT on transload facility
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. Work is continuing on the planned new freight transload shipping facility. - photo by Tribune file photo

 The City of Great Bend’s has submitted its packet detailing its vision for a new train-truck shipping hub. Now, city officials just have to wait for word from the Kansas Department of Transportation on funding.

Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters told the City Council Monday night the information was sent in December and that she was proud of what the city put together. Now they are in a holding pattern until KDOT figures out what it will offer in terms of funding.

Great Bend and Garden City selected in September as finalists for development of transload shipping centers. They emerged from a group of seven cities, whose representatives made formal presentations in July and August before the Kansas Department of Transportation/Kansas Turnpike Authority Transload Facility Site Analysis Selection Committee.

It is a joint effort between the cities and KDOT.

“We feel this is going to be a huge project,” Peters said. Peters along with Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington presented the city’s case before the committee last July.

Since then, leaders in Garden City and Great Bend have provided business plans and financial models that detailed the development costs and the projected increase in related rail service and business opportunity, Peters said. Based on that and other relevant information, the state will determine the amount of funding to contribute to the projects. 

For its part, City Administrator Howard Partington said the city is offering a discounted lease rate of $400 per month on 17 acres in the Municipal Airport area, planning on beefing up roads in the area to accommodate heavy trucks and increased traffic, and making sure utilities are available. The council has already taken action on these items.

“It goes back to what products can be shipped by rail,” Peters said. Grain handling and wind power are among the many industries that could benefit from this.

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.

Peters said there are a lot of potential business partnerships possible with this effort. Ultimately, the local goal would be to attract new businesses and jobs to Great Bend.

“It’s very exciting,” said KDOT’s John Maddox. “It presents a number of opportunities for economic development, not only for these two cities, but also regionally and statewide as well.”

“I’m confident the cities, state and rail providers will develop a funding package that will allow these projects to move forward,” said Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King.

Transloading is the process of moving goods from one mode of transportation to another, in this case, from truck to rail and rail to truck. By blending the the two, a transload facility can provide a flexible and cost-effective solutions for customers who may not have local access to freight rail service or those who need expanded warehousing.

The Kansas Department of Transportation/Kansas Turnpike Authority Transload Facility Site Analysis Committee (which includes private sector representatives of Transportation, along with the Kansas Turnpike Authority and departments of Commerce and Agriculture) selected the finalists from the 111 proposals submitted for consideration. Some communities submitted multiple sites. 

The other finalists included that didn’t make the cut were Abilene, Concordia, Eldorado (Refinery Road site), Great Plains Industrial Park just south of Parsons and Norton.