The Port of Oakland has approved the construction of a two-mile rail spur that will connect the two main U.S. western railroads with an on-port distribution center designed to handle exports of perishables foodstuffs, the port said yesterday.
The $11 million spur will link Omaha-based Union Pacific Corp. tracks to "Cool Port Oakland," a 25-acre facility slated to open in the third quarter of 2018. The port will oversee the spur's construction and share the cost with the developers, Irvine, Calif.-based Lineage Logistics and Oakland-based Dreisbach Enterprises Inc.
UP will construct part of the spur on its property. Its chief rival, Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway Co., will also have access to the spur without paying for its use, port officials said.
Under the Cool Port concept, the railroads will bring product to the center, where the freight will be transferred, in a temperature-controlled setting, from rail cars to shipping containers, and then brought across the street to the docks for loading on outbound vessels. The proximity of the $90 million center to the docks means shipments can be loaded onto vessels at minimal cost and with little risk to product integrity, port officials said.
The opening of the $90 million center could dramatically improve market access for Midwest beef and pork producers, the port said.
Oakland is one of the few U.S. ports that handles about the same amount of exports as imports. It has a strong niche in agricultural commodities thanks to its relatively close proximity to California's verdant Central Valley.