The New York State Department of Transportation is awarding CSX railways $19 million for the creation of an inland port at the DeWitt rail yard. The upgrade will allow the facility to load and unload containers from the Port of New York and New Jersey.
Executive Deputy Commissioner Ron Epstein said DOT is estimating 30,000 containers could be brought in annually. CSX will enhance its rail service to five days a week.
“So this will actually make it more of an international hub for transporting the commodity," Epstein said. "There’s a lot of commodities in the region, such as agricultural, wood and metals that go to Asia and other places. Anytime you can reduce the cost of making and shipping goods, that's only going to translate to you being more competitive, not only with other areas of the state, but with other states and internationally."
The inland port was proposed by the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council as having the potential to create 2,000 jobs. But the reality has been scaled back. Epstein said the immediate needs of stakeholders is to turn things around quickly and he said there is not a lot of interest in having inventory.
“As this develops, nothing that we’re doing precludes warehousing, which I think a lot of the local discussion about jobs has been," Epstein said. "But nobody has identified the type of activity right now that would require warehousing. This is scalable, so as that need develops, it can be accommodated.”
Last year, CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson called the decision to locate the port at the DeWitt rail yard a "massive missed opportunity." Simpson pushed for the port in Camillus, where he said more warehousing could be developed. But Epstein said that site was not in the best business interest of CSX, who owns those tracks.
The goal is to have the new inland port with crane equipment, lifts and areas for stacking and handling containers done in 18 months.