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Archive for Monday, March 13, 2006

Railway plans new hub near Gardner

March 13, 2006

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— BNSF Railway is considering building a $200 million intermodal shipment center on a site southwest of Gardner, close to the Gardner Municipal Airport, city and economic development officials said.

A formal proposal for a transport complex that could occupy up to 1,000 acres is expected this spring, said Greg Kindle, president of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp.

At the site, trains coming from Pacific ports would be unloaded, with the goods either trucked to other destinations or stored there. The intermodal facility itself would occupy about 300 acres, with the other property used for distribution sites, Kindle said.

"We think in the next several weeks it's possible some decision might be made," said Steve Forsberg, a BNSF spokesman. "At this point, I can't confirm anything. I can't say we've ruled anything in or out."

But Kindle said his office has been discussing the site south of Gardner with BNSF since the railroad decided not to pursue another location closer to Olathe, after objections were raised to that proposal.

The land is between Gardner and Edgerton. If the railroad builds the shipment center, Gardner would annex the site, Kindle said.

Bob Marcusse, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council, said the potential BNSF facility would help plans to make Kansas City a major distribution and logistics center.

Gardner Mayor Carol Lehman plans to appoint a committee to review a transportation study and economic impact study that is expected to be submitted by the railroad.

The city will not make its final decision until after those studies are reviewed.

A similar intermodal transport facility is planned for the former Richards-Gebaur Airport in south Kansas City. A Chicago developer, CenterPoint Realty Services Corp., plans to spend at least $250 million redeveloping the former military airfield into an "inland port" to handle shipments to and from Mexico.

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