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Home > Feature Articles > Logistics and Vehicle Fleet Management > Goods Movement

Inland Port Creates Shipping Crossroads of U.S.-Mexico-Canadian trade

Union Pacific plans $90 million intermodal rail terminal alongside Interstate 35 in Texas for the inland ports through mid-America

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August 28, 2007 -- Union Pacific has announced plans to build a $90 million state-of-the-art 300-acre intermodal rail terminal alongside Interstate 35 in San Antonio, advancing the city's goal to establish itself as a NAFTA inland port.

With over 80,000 semi trucks currently traveling to rail yards within the San Antonio city limits to pick up or drop off containers and trailers, the new facility is designed to relieve traffic in the city.

The San Antonio Business Journal noted the Union Pacific terminal was strategically located to ship and receive containers with household goods both from West Coast ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as Mexican ports such as Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas.

The Free Trade Alliance San Antonio was created in 1994 as a trade group dedicated to promoting the development of San Antonio as a world trade inland port.

In a position paper on the Alliance website, the group notes "congestion in U.S. West Coast ports combined with poor rail service has led to a virtual choking of Chinese exports into the United States... San Antonio is working with alternative ports in Mexico (Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas) and on the Texas Gulf Coast (such as Houston and Corpus Christi) to offer Chinese exporters a competitive and time-efficient alternative to their traditional distribution routes through California."

The Free Trade Alliance San Antonio is a member of the North American Inland Port Network, which has been incorporated as a subcommittee into the North America's SuperCorridor Coalition, or NASCO, the Dallas-based trade group supporting the development of NAFTA and WTO-related trade along Interstates 35, 29 and 94.

Containers entering the U.S. through Mexican ports such as Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas would utilize cheaper Mexican dock workers instead of the longshoremen who work at West Coast ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Additionally, containers transported from the West Coast overland to the heartland today use U.S. truck drivers or United Transportation Union railroad workers, who are typically more expensive than their Mexican counterparts.

Members of NAIPN are Free Trade Alliance San Antonio, AllianceTexas, Kansas City SmartPort, the city of Winnipeg, The Central Mexico Inland Ports Initiative, and Iowa Inland Port.

WND also has reported the ports of Houston and New Orleans are preparing to handle an increased flow of containers from China, including the post-Panamax container ships from China designed to travel through an expanded Panama Canal.

The Wall Street Journal reported March 28 that Princeton economics professor Alan S. Blinder, the former Federal Reserve vice chairman who advised President Clinton to push through the passage of NAFTA, now estimates the U.S. could lose up to 40 million jobs to outsourcing over the next two decades as the country transforms into a service economy.

To handle the anticipated influx of millions of containers with cheaply manufactured Chinese goods into North America, transportation economists have emphasized "intermodal" as a methodology for moving containers efficiently by ship, truck and train, without having to reload the contents.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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