Baldwin City Skip Kalb thinks the Gardner Intermodal can mean growth for Baldwin City in whatever way the community wants, but he doesn't think it will mean a huge increase in truck traffic on U.S. Highway 56.
Kalb, a Baldwin City native who works for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, is in charge of the massive Intermodal complex that will be built southwest of Gardner and is expected to open in 2009. He's often asked what the 1,800 trucks that will be leaving the railway yard each day will mean to traffic in this southern Douglas County community.
"We don't see a flood of trucks coming this way," Kalb told the Baldwin City Council this week. "We just don't see it."
Kalb said BNSF had a study done on where the traffic would go from the 1,000-acre shipping hub that will produce those 1,800 trucks a day. Trains will deliver cargo to the center that then will be loaded onto semi tractor-trailers.
"The study shows that less than 1 to 2 percent will go west and 90 percent will go north and south," Kalb said.
The Intermodal complex, he said, will create about 13,000 jobs - the vast majority at the massive warehouses that will be built on the site. The railway portion of the project takes up about 400 acres, with the remaining 600 acres used for warehouses, he said.
Kalb said it's important for Baldwin City to review and solidify its comprehensive plan to ensure growth related to the Intermodal is what the community wants.
"You're in a unique position," Kalb said. "Do you want some light industrial, do you want high-end residential?
"You will have opportunities, no doubt. I have no doubt there will be residential home sales."
Aside from job creation, the Intermodal is projected to contribute $1.7 billion over 20 years to the Kansas economy, he said, noting that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has called the project the state's largest economic development program in 45 years.
He said that BNSF is making the project as "green" as possible. For example, diesel-operated cranes will be replaced by electric-powered cranes to move containers off rail cars.
"We want this to be a showcase project," Kalb said.