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Rail Roundup: UP's Grain Transload Project, Senators' Grade Crossing Bill

Union Pacific Constructing Chicago-Area Transload Facility For Agricultural Producers

Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) is constructing a grain transload facility near Chicago to benefit Midwest agricultural producers and processors and reduce their supply chain costs.

The company is building the facility within its Global IV intermodal terminal in Joliet, Illinois. The Union Pacific Global IV Transload Facility will be managed by JCT, a 50-50 joint venture between Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. and Gavilon Grain.

The terminal will have a capacity of 50,000 containers per year. Construction started in April and should finish in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

Union Pacific (UP) says the terminal will expand connection opportunities to both empty containers and its West Coast port terminal network. Regional producers and processors seeking to export products such as whole grains and oilseeds will be able to truck their products to Global IV, where they will then be transloaded into intermodal marine containers. UP will then rail the containers to the West Coast ports, where they will be loaded onto oceans containers and shipped overseas. 

This offering will provide exporters with greater access to containers as well as enable faster turnaround times, UP said.

“By colocating on site at G4, we create greater efficiencies within the supply chain,” said Kari Kirchhoefer, UP vice president of marketing and sales for the railroad’s premium segment. 

US Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Create Grant Program Eliminating Rail Crossings

Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., have introduced legislation that calls for the creation of a grant program aimed at reducing congestion at highway-rail grade crossings.

The grant program would provide $500 million a year for five years to communities seeking to improve safety at the crossings and reduce congestion. States, cities and tribes would plan and construct grade crossing separation projects or track relocation projects. 

“As a state with the 10th-largest number of railroad miles in the nation, Missourians are no stranger to the safety issues and inconveniences caused by rail crossings,” Blunt said. “Getting rid of rail crossings will reduce traffic jams, improve the quality of life and – most importantly – increase safety in communities across the state. In addition, removing crossings will increase the reliability of our rail network and strengthen Missouri’s role as a national transportation hub.”

Cantwell said. “Communities throughout Washington state know the safety and congestion challenges posed by at-grade crossings. Too many people are injured or killed at at-grade crossings, and the safest crossing is one that does not exist. Crossings can also delay the movement of people and goods all across the United States, hurting our competitiveness. 

“With the volume of freight shipments projected to increase 17% by the year 2030, it is critical we act now to address this urgent infrastructure need,” Cantwell said. “The legislation Sen. Blunt and I are introducing today would authorize grants for state, local and tribal governments to eliminate at-grade crossing conflicts to improve safety and help the U.S. economy by decreasing freight congestion.”

Cantwell is chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, while Blunt is a member of that committee. 

Both the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) voiced their support of the bill. 

“Railroads strongly support this common-sense solution to increase safety, reduce emissions and enhance transportation,” AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies said. “AAR looks forward to working with Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Blunt to advance this much-needed program, which will dramatically benefit the communities in which our members serve and improve the mobility of people and goods.”

ASLRRA President Chuck Baker said, “While short line railroads strive to work closely with our communities and customers to avoid causing any unwelcome impacts, there are many opportunities throughout the country to eliminate highway-rail grade crossings to improve the mobility of people and goods and improve the health and safety of communities. If passed, this legislation will help provide funds to our government and tribal partners to allow them to work with us to close, relocate or improve many challenging crossings, and we look forward to doing so whenever and wherever possible.”

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