Southern California Logistics Airport Development OK?d
Ground for the new intermodal rail facility will be broken within two years
VICTORVILLE - 11/22/04 - The City Council of this small High Desert city northeast of Los Angeles has given its full approval for the development of a multi-million dollar rail complex at the 5,800-acre Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA).
The City Council, which serves as the airport and rail authority, is negotiating with the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) - the two prime movers serving the Southern California region - to move ahead with the rail complex with the city's Redevelopment Agency financing the project with tax increments and bonds.
By combining aviation, trucking and rail service, the former George Air Force Base "is expected to become a major international cargo distribution center, generating as many as 15,000 jobs," according to Victorville City Councilman Michael Rothschild.
Plans, he said, call for connecting the airport via a 3-mile-long link to both railroads' main lines to bring rail service to air facility.
Some of the positive features of the airport, he said, include a secured on-site 24-hour US Customs inspection facility, and a pair of runways - one 10,000-foot, the other stretching 15,050-foot runway - "allowing the heaviest aircraft direct, non-stop access to any destination in the world," he said.
Carriers currently utilizing the airport include FedEx Express, ASB Air, and MK International.
"We expect the airport to become a major player in the world cargo market,' Rothschild said. "This will be the finishing touch at the airport, cementing its role as the economic engine for the entire Victor Valley."
Ground will be broken for the rail complex within 18 to 24 months with full operations expected in five to 10 years.
"Environmental impact studies are under way, and rights-of-way are being acquired for the connecting rail route,' he said.
Rothschild said the airport's developer, Stirling International Airports, is working with the Pasha Group, a large international logistics service provider, to establish a 700-acre cargo distribution facility at the airport. Pasha has said it plans to develop an automotive processing and storage complex at the site.
At the same time, Stirling also is negotiating an agreement with DHL, the giant freight forwarder and expedited air courier, to handle national and worldwide cargo shipments in and out of the SCLA.
Pasha will bring automobiles in by rail from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for detailing and redistribution, said Rothschild, who added that neither port has the capacity to offer extended storage space for incoming cargo, which is expected to increase 7% annually over the next several years, but "the Victorville airport has room to develop and grow to keep pace with the anticipated surge in cargo volume" expected over the next two decades.
"Our space is less expensive than Los Angeles," he said, "and we will be able to break down and redistribute cargo containers much faster, saving shippers considerable costs."
About 60% of the cargo shipped out of the two ports is eastbound, and the remaining 40% stays in the Los Angeles Basin, he said.
When the rail complex opens, the SCLA would become the eastern arm of the Alameda Corridor, which links the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with several inland intermodal container transfer facilities. The Corridor currently handles about 50 trains daily with that number expected to double or even triple within the next ten years.
According to a spokesman for the BNSF, more than 100 trains now travel daily between the High Desert and the railroad's major rail yard in San Bernardino with more than 35,000 trains yearly carrying $100 billion worth of goods and 60 million passengers moving along the route.
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