July 26, 2017 – Bi-State Region: In 1989, a barge terminal study was done for the Quad Cities metropolitan area. It determined that containers on barge was not feasible at the time; the best location was a site to become a casino, and private ownership was recommended. In ensuing years, the metro and regional long range plans have included freight as an important transportation component in the region, and staff have assisted with grant applications for transload facilities, switch yard studies, rail spurs, and grade separations. In 2014-15, funding was secured to complete the Bi-State Freight Plan to add to the region’s understanding of freight transportation, identify system gaps or barriers for moving goods, and determine projects to enhance the region’s freight and logistics capabilities.
Freight improvement recommendations included the I-74 bridge replacement; I-80 widening for highway capacity improvements; and the addition of port facilities, such as the completion of the transload facility in Davenport, as well as Port of Muscatine currently under consideration. It also included expanding and attracting more air cargo at the Quad City International Airport, improving the locks and dams, and improving area railroad bridges to meet 286K weight compliance requirements. The study also provided a tool to better utilize the national freight commodity data and allow for it to be shown more graphically.
Implementation of the regional freight plan has included working with local jurisdictions on their freight related project and establishing an on-going freight stakeholders group to further enhance the region’s economic and logistics opportunities related to moving commodities efficiently. This also includes growing staff capacity in freight planning and data analysis.
Port of Muscatine: Dave Gobin, Planning and Community Development Director, outlined the purpose and need for the Port of Muscatine feasibility study, including truck driver shortages, no intermodal container facilities north of St. Louis, and need for greater use of the U.S. inland waterways. Parameters of the study were a need for highway, rail, and water transportation modes; a port with transloading and container freight capabilities; a single facility for local shippers to reach a global market; and to grow the regional economy.
The Iowa Department of Transportation identified $2.6 million in funds for a pilot freight grant program, Linking Iowa’s Freight System (LIFTS). The program purpose was to improve multimodal freight transportation to meet changing demands for shipping products. The City of Muscatine secured $80,000 of LIFTS funding and $20,000 in public/private partner matching funds to conduct a feasibility study for their port idea. The project concept included developing a 100-300 contiguous acre industrial site, making sure the port is privately owned and has road, rail, and river access. The study looked at the site and whether there was local business support. The study concluded there was sufficient local community support, local business support for freight movement, and favorable economic benefits for the area. A phased approach was recommended with a market analysis needed, and will be funded by local industry in the coming months. The city has also submitted a request to be designated for the U.S. marine highway program to be eligible for future funding. The initial project costs are anticipated to be $25-40 million under the governance of a Port Commission.
Davenport Transload: Nicole Gleason, Davenport Public Works Director, introduced Brandon Wright and Bruce Berger to overview the city’s transload facility. The original project was funded through an Economic Development Administration grant, and the operation of the transload facility is currently contracted. An aerial map was distributed showing three areas of the project where expansion is needed. They include interchange track at the newly sited Sterilite facility, a transload rail spur at the southwest end of the rail line, and another transload interchange track located in Eldridge. The city is pursuing EDA funds to support the expansion anticipated to cost $3-4 million.