Inland Empire Economic Growth

BNSF Unveils $1.5B ‘Barstow International Gateway’ Plan

According to the Victorville Daily Press, October 2, 2022, BNSF Railway Co. aims to invest more than $1.5 billion in a new Barstow facility that expands its role as an economic anchor in the High Desert and transforms the way global cargo moves across the U.S. from Southern California ports. The private-railroad giant owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. announced its plans for a “Barstow International Gateway” driven by “clean-energy powered cargo-handling equipment”. The expected date of completion isn’t clear, and some regulatory hoops remain before construction can begin, but BNSF said the project will span about 4,500 acres on the west side of Barstow with a new “rail yard, intermodal facility and warehouses for transloading freight from international containers to domestic containers,” according to a company statement. In a statement, BNSF president and CEO Katie Farmer said, “The Barstow International Gateway will maximize rail and distribution efficiency regionally and across the U.S. supply chain and reduce truck traffic and freeway congestion in the Los Angeles Basin and the Inland Empire. The plan is for the Barstow International Gateway to allow cargo to be transferred from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach directly to Barstow via rail through the Alameda Corridor. A rail facility would transport these containers to Barstow, where they would be moved onto trains headed across the U.S. The new intermodal facility would exist to transfer the containers between rail and “transload warehouses” using electric yard trucks. The purpose of the transload warehouses would be for “repackaging and processing goods arriving at the Intermodal Facility from international containers into domestic containers,” BNSF states on its website. The City of Barstow will develop an environmental-impact analysis for the project as required by the California Environmental Quality Act, which is one hurdle that must be met before construction can begin. According to BNSF, the project is a private investment and won’t rely on taxpayer funding. “This facility will bring thousands of jobs to Barstow, while increasing equity, opportunity and the economic competitiveness of the high desert,” Barstow City Manager Willie Hopkins Jr. said in a statement.

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