By JOHN O’CONNELL for postregister.com
A Salt Lake City-based transportation and logistics company has announced plans to build the state’s first intermodal rail terminal in Pocatello, thereby making it quicker and cheaper to export a variety of agricultural commodities.
Savage — a global supply chain company with 4,500 workers based in more than 200 locations — plans to start construction immediately on the facility, to be called Savage Railport-Southern Idaho, according to a press release. It should be operational by the middle of this year.
Savage has reached an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad to build and operate the terminal within the Pocatello rail yard. Savage workers will fill rail cars with containers of agricultural commodities at the intermodal terminal. Union Pacific will haul the goods to Northwest Seaport Alliance terminals in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, according to the press release.
The freight will then be shipped overseas to Asia and other world markets.
“Utilizing a direct rail connection will be more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” Savage officials said in the press release.
Savage chose to locate in Pocatello largely due to its existing Union Pacific infrastructure and its location near major producers of hay and other agricultural products that are often moved to the Northwest to be shipped to Asia and other markets, said Savage spokesman Jeff Hymas.
The rail port will employ about four workers, and more employees will likely be hired as volumes increase, Hymas said.
Initially, he said the facility will load about 150 containers per week on 75 rail cars. By the year’s end, Hymas said Savage hopes to be shipping up to 250 containers per week on 125 rail cars from the Pocatello facility.
Hymas said the facility will load predominately agricultural goods, but it will be available to ship dry goods in general that don’t require refrigeration. He said hay should be the top commodity shipped from the facility.
“It’s anticipated that in the future there will be opportunities to move into frozen or refrigerated exports,” Hymas said.
Savage President and CEO Kirk Aubry said in the press release that the facility should open new supply chains to Idaho businesses and help them tap new global markets.
Gov. Brad Little is also encouraged by the facility’s potential to help Gem State businesses.
“Idaho’s agricultural and business communities need dependable transportation to get product into global markets,” Little said in the press release. “Transportation projects like this rail terminal in Pocatello can create opportunities for Idaho businesses to grow and can help support export prospects for more agricultural producers.”
Bannock Development Corp. CEO MiaCate Kennedy told the Journal the new infrastructure should facilitate “increased and efficient agricultural transport and growth in exports.”
“Savage has been incredibly professional to work with and I am confident they will do an amazing build,” Kennedy said. “These types of growth opportunities support our goals of planned and forward-facing growth for agriculture and other businesses here.”
Union Pacific issued a statement lauding the partnership as being “uniquely focused on Idaho shippers’ needs and the global economic impact Pacific Northwest exports have around the world.
“Union Pacific’s unique collaboration with Savage uses intermodal containers heading to the Northwest ports,” Kari Kirchhoefer, Union Pacific vice president of marketing and sales premium, said in the press release. “This partnership makes the most of the container’s round trip and saves truck drayage costs for Idaho shippers by providing a direct rail option.”