GE eyes Great Bend transload facility
Great Bend officials announced Wednesday morning that General Electric has plans to utilize the new the Great Bend transload facility site west of Great Bend in the city’s industrial park.
Watco Supply Chain Services sector recently shared with city officials that General Electric will be delivering wind turbine components to store at the facility starting the week of Jan. 30, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters said during a news conference Wednesday morning at the chamber office. The tower sections for the GE turbines will be shipped by both rail and truck from Canada, with the first 50 pieces coming by rail and the next one hundred pieces delivered by truck.
In a second project, eight sets of wind blades, 24 total pieces, will be transported by truck and escorted by pilot cars to a site near The Great Bend Transload facility. These eight sets of wind blades started arriving in Great Bend Wednesday afternoon. The blades are being off loaded by a 65-ton crane and stored for several months.
Three distinct sections make up one wind turbine – three wind blades; the nacelle - which houses the shaft, gearbox, generator and controls; and tubular steel towers. Components are manufactured at various locations throughout the world, shipped by truck and rail, stored at locations like the Great Bend Transload facility, and eventually delivered to their final destination at wind farms. A wind farm can consist of as few as five wind turbines or as many as 150.
From massive wind turbines arriving to traffic control, there is a lot happening at the developing Great Bend transload facility, it was announced at a news conference Monday morning. A host of city, economic development and industry officials gathered in the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce Office to make the presentation.
“As the Great Bend transload facility and the surrounding area take shape, project partners are excited to share the newest developments,” chamber President Jan Peters said. The facility is located west of Great Bend in the city’s industrial park,
The huge Wind turbine blades began to arrive Wednesday via semi-trucks. Other turbine components will start to show up next week.
“This is a very exciting start to the Great Bend Transload project and shows that Great Bend is definitely open for business,” said Pat Cedeno, senior vice president of Watco’s Transportation Services Commercial team. Pittsburg-based Watco owns the K&O Railroad that will serve the facility.
“This positive development for future economic growth is evident by the forward thinking leaders and hard work by the partners,” he said. These partners include Sherwood Construction which will manage the site, the City of Great Bend, the chamber, Fuller Industries and the Kansas Department of Transportation.
As this will have an impact on local roads and crossings, the greatest area of focus and awareness for the community of Great Bend is safety, officials said. In order to minimize safety concerns with the additional activities on the highways, the team wants to notify the public that along with this economic growth comes changes in traffic patterns.
Every attempt is being made to minimize the impact on citizen’s daily lives, Peters said. In a meeting involving law enforcement, city and county roads departments, logistics company personnel and economic development staff; all operational details regarding the moves were discussed to ensure that the greatest amount of safety measures are in place.
In addition all permits have been secured with The Kansas Department of Transportation according to John Maddox with the Bureau of Transportation Planning, Freight and Rail Unit.
The wind turbine blades will come from the south on U.S. 56 with minimal additional traffic on 10th Street, but will impact traffic on Airport Road and Eighth Street in the Industrial Park. Additional train traffic will impact the at-grade rail crossing of U.S. 56 intersection near Straub International.
The Kansas Department of Transportation is coordinating with the K&O on a project that will install active flashing light signals and gates at the crossing.
“And to think, these projects are just the beginning to our future growth and the economic impact for our community,” Peters said. The Great Bend Transload facility has become well know in various circles and has the capacity to store many different types of products, such as aggregate, lumber and related construction materials, grain and heavy equipment.
“In addition, the warehousing space and available land at Fuller Industries gives us the perfect blend of resources to provide a quality destination for manufacturers,” she said. “We have worked hard to make Great Bend the right location as a premier shipping hub.”
Since ground was broken at the site last July, work has been done to level the land, remove World War II-era concrete, and repair roads and railroads.
Transloading is the moving of goods from one mode to another, in this case, from truck to rail and rail to truck. This can provide flexible and cost-effective solutions for customers who don’t access to rail service or need expanded warehousing.
The site will serve wind energy, cement, pipe, lumber, construction materials, chemicals, canned goods, oil related businesses, among other industries.
The operation will be on 17 acres leased from the city for $400 per month. When running, there will be three tracks for loading and unloading, as well as staging, for up to 45 rail cars.
The KDOT/Kansas Turnpike Authority Transload Facility Site Analysis Committee selected eight finalists from 111 proposals. Great Bend and Garden City made the final cut after a multi-year process.
Great Bend’s central location made it a prime candidate. Also, the location near the airport has access to more than one rail line, on-ground storage and, through an agreement with Fuller Industries, warehousing options.