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By: Peter O'Dowd on 11/05/2012
Groups of cities are scrambling to create transportation hubs in Arizona that would reap the advantages of global commerce. It was the topic of a story we reported last week about the future of the North American Free Trade agreement. But as KJZZ’s Peter O’Dowd tells us, one developer is already fast at work trying to get an inland port established in Central Arizona.
Jakob Anderson is trying to start Inland Port Arizona near Casa Grande. (Photos by Peter O'Dowd - KJZZ)
[Sound of train whistle in the background]
JACKOB ANDERSEN: That will be the mainline of the Union Pacific train coming through the city of Casa Grande in the background there.
PETER O’DOWD: Jackob Andersen says his idea is pretty simple: Make that train stop. So much of the foreign cargo coming off ships at ports in California runs straight through Arizona.
ANDERSEN: That could vary from anything from toys, to tennis shoes to furniture -- anything coming into the states.
O’DOWD: Andersen’s idea for those products revolves around 400 acres of empty land a few miles from the train tracks and the junction of interstates 8 and 10. Anderson’s trying to open the Inland Port Arizona – a series of industrial buildings like warehouses and distribution centers that would intercept UP’s trains, unload the cargo, and then get it ready for delivery by truck to the rest of the Western US.
ANDERSEN: On the doorstep we have Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the US. So that changed the mindset of why someone would create something like an inland port here in Arizona.
O’DOWD: If it gets off the ground, this would be a very small port – one that might handle 20,000 sea containers a year. Still, Andersen says he wants state planners to pay attention to what he’s doing.
ANDERSEN: See what we’ve got here. Let’s make this one happen. And then let's go make two or three more. Because this one’s real; this one’s happening. The plans have been approved. It’s been approved by Union Pacific.
O’DOWD: It’s still unclear how this might fit into larger - but still embryonic - ideas that regional planners are developing to create these projects on a larger scale. It is, however, one example of the way Arizona is trying to get a hand in the global supply chain – something the state has failed to excel at so far.