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Onondaga County hopes to take the lead on inland port development

Tom Magnarelli
Overhead map of the CSX rail line and adjacent area around the DeWitt Rail Yard, provided by 3Gi.

Onondaga County officials said they are willing to find an operator and developer for the new inland port. This comes after the state announced a $19 million investment to CSX Railways for the improvements to a DeWitt rail yard.

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon said if CSX does not strike a private agreement, he wants the county’s industrial development agency to keep the momentum moving on the project.

“The IDA should quarterback this process," McMahon said. "There’s no quarterback of this process now. We know CSX wants to do a deal. We know the state wants to do a deal. We know that there is upstate revitalization money there for this project but there is no developer yet.”

McMahon said developers are going to ask the IDA for assistance and for some of the $40 million earmarked for the inland port through the state’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

He said he met with CSX officials a couple months ago and they were not opposed to the county's involvement. The IDA can take the lead on an extensive environmental review and can procure an operator of the inland port through a competitive process.

“We need this to move forward," McMahon said. "Many people in this community don’t ever believe this will happen. We know that there are other communities in the northeast that want to see this happen.”

McMahon said having an operator in place by the time improvements are done could spark development in warehousing and create jobs. The inland port could make it faster and cheaper for companies to import and export products by rail to the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.