Iowa Interstate Railroad purchases 30 acres for new transloading facility in southeast Iowa City

The facility could help curb greenhouse emissions, city officials say.

Jack Moore, News Reporter

A new rail-to-truck trans-loading facility is coming to Iowa City following a purchase of 30 acres of land by the Iowa Interstate Railroad.

The new facility will be located in southeast Iowa City on the city’s industrial campus east of the intersection between 420th Street and Highway 6. According to a press release from the Iowa Interstate Railroad, the rail-to-truck facility will give direct access to all 7 Class-I Railroads:

  • BNSF Railway Co.
  • Canadian National Railway
  • Canadian Pacific
  • CSX Transportation
  • Kansas City Southern Railway Co.
  • Norfolk Southern Combined Railroad Subsidiaries
  • Union Pacific Railroad Co.

In addition, the site will provide a new transportation connection between rail and Interstate 80, Highway 6 and Highway 218.

According to the press release, the addition of the site will benefit the area and the environment.

“Moving freight by rail instead of trucks lowers greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75%, on average,” it states

Additionally, Iowa City City Manager Geoff Fruin said in the release that the project could serve as an example of how local purchases make national impacts.

“The transportation sector accounts for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions nationally, and a quarter of our emissions locally. Projects like this are an excellent example of how actions on the local level contribute to solutions at a larger scale,” he said.

Wendy Ford, Iowa City economic development coordinator, said the city would reap the rewards of the new facility.

“We do have several manufacturers in Iowa City, who either bring in raw materials or ship out finished products that would benefit or could benefit from this transloading facility,” Ford said.

RELATED: New UIHC facility to increase health care access to residents in southeast Iowa City

Ford said the part of the land the city sold is part of a larger piece purchased in 2008 during the recession.

“…So, we thought as a city at the time: Okay, well, let’s use this time to make a long-term investment in industry knowing that may take a good long while before anybody, any industrial users come out and want to purchase that land. So, this is really the realization of that,” Ford said.

Austin Korns, Iowa City Area Development’s director of business development, said he had seen more rail utilization in recent years, and bringing rails to Iowa City will help spur the economy.

“Our big limiting factor has been our inability to train load to the point where we’ve had deals fall through…because we haven’t been able to find a way to get transloading capabilities close enough to the site where they would be doing the work. So, we’ve known that that’s a big limiting factor for a while, and I think this will be a game changer,” Korns said.

Additionally, Korns said it will benefit Iowa City’s sustainability.

“The numbers are pretty clear. Rail is more sustainable, and has a lower carbon footprint… So, when you’re able to just utilize trucks for the first or last miles even in practice instead of long over-the-road hauling, I think it has the capability of making some pretty huge impacts,” he said.

Overall, Korns said he is excited to see the project come to fruition.

“We’ve encouraged this type of work in the past, and they listened, and they came to the table and made it a reality. So, I just really appreciate the work that the city put into it,” Korns said.