Southeast Freight Conference: Memphis on track to become trade powerhouse

November 9th, 2012

As published in Cargo Business Newswire:

Leaders in the freight industry, including Norfolk Southern and Dunavant, presented to more than 300 logistics decision makers in Memphis at the two-day Southeast Freight Conference, sponsored by Cargo Business News. The Memphis World Trade Club co-sponsored the event, held at the Memphis Hilton and capped with the club's annual industry Port Night gala Thursday night at The Peabody hotel.

Norfolk Southern's $105 million, 380-acre Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility in Rossville is making steady progress toward promoting industrial development in Tennessee and Mississippi, according to Grant Cothran and Tommy Jackson. Cothran, manager of national accounts in intermodal development at Norfolk Southern, and Jackson, senior vice president of industrial asset services for CB Richard Ellis, briefed attendees on the state of the intermodal hub in their report on the Crescent Corridor.

The two provided updates on Norfolk Southern's $2.5 billion, multi-state effort to institute a 2,500-mile intermodal freight rail route from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-Atlantic. Infrastructure enhancements have included grade improvements and new construction on three highways. By 2016, the Interstate 69/269 beltway should be completed, as should the Piperton Hills connector roads linking U.S. 72 with state highways 57, 196 and 302.

"Great economic growth has already started within this particular beltway," Jackson said. "Part of it is related to Norfolk's coverage expansion and part of it is related to the roadway and infrastructure expansion in the area.

Rossville had its soft opening in July. The terminal has a 200,000-volume lift capacity, 1,000 parking spaces for trailers, high-tech gate and terminal automation technology to reduce the waiting times, 12,150 feet of lift track, and 7,110 feet of support track.

"I want to emphasize that we have plenty of room for expansion," Cothran said.

Memphis, with its logistics and transportation strengths, is going head to head with Chicago and Dallas, according to President and CEO William B. Dunavant III of Dunavant Enterprises. The city has the world's second busiest air cargo airport, fourth largest inland port, five major railroads, more than 400 trucking companies and seven interstate or U.S. highways.

"Memphis absolutely competes on all loads with Dallas and Chicago but the big difference is, in my opinion, less congestion and less cost," Dunavant said. Because of Valero's oil refinery, "It's pretty simple that fuel is cheaper than most locations. We don't have to transport it. It's made and refined here in our city."

"(Memphis has) this unique logistics position that's capable of reaching out not only to Asia, but Africa and North and South America as well," said Fred Malesa, vice president of international intermodal for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

Malesa said BNSF and ocean shipping line OOCL have been working to build capacity in the Memphis area for 30 years. "We're committed to a long-standing and profitable future with Memphis," he added.

View the whole article at Cargo Business Newswire