Written by The Business Journal Staff
As high-speed rail planners look to replace cars on California’s roadways, with Crossings project, another venture near Fresno is on a path to remove the pollution and expense created by the trucks that transport goods around the state.
Since it was proposed around three years ago, the Crossings Industrial and Logistics Park is now taking shape northwest of Conejo and Peach avenues in Selma with 160,000 square-feet of warehousing, cold and dry storage and rail docks that encourage more companies to use trains and fewer trucks.
So far, the 154-acre rail-oriented industrial park served by the Burlington North Santa Fe railway has one anchor tenant, Van G Logistics, a Fowler-based company that provides freight services and warehousing with five facilities located throughout California.
Owner Roger Van Groningen, who developed the Crossings project, said more should be coming on soon since the site zoned to M3 for heavy industrial activity last August. More rail dock doors are on the way as is a loop track 9,000 feet long. Groningen said a total of 39,000 feet of rail track is slated for the site.
“There’s probably no place else in the United States that will have that type of capacity,” Groningen said. “We will be able to ship everything that comes throughout the Central Valley into the coastal areas from Santa Maria to Salinas, up to Sacramento and even down to Los Angeles.”
Van Groningen cited various benefits of the park, including plans to develop expedited freight service to Chicago in less than three days and all the way to the East Coast in around five days.
With more product going by rail line, Groningen said the industrial park can save growers and shippers up to $50 million a year in transportation costs, especially those delivering goods to the Midwest and even farther east.
And with fewer trucks on the highways, he added, the development seeks to reduce the high carbon footprint involved in distribution.
“Each truck that we take off the road going to Chicago will save about eight tons of CO2,” he said. “There are four truck loads per rail car and 42 tons per rail car and if you multiply it times 60 cars in a train, you’re talking about a lot of CO2.”
Trucks are not completely out of the picture, however, as the Crossings, located seven miles from Highway 99 and three miles from Highway 41, will also be installed with an on-site truck scale. The site also comes secured by a gate and closed circuit television, gas and electric service and ample parking.
“We’ve done it all through our own cash flow,” Groningen said. “We’re looking right now at probably around $17 million worth of investment. Going forward the price of improvements and the price of track and installation are expensive but we look forward to continue our expansion.”
Groningen, a private pilot, said he found the Crossings’ current location after flying between the San Joaquin and Kings rivers looking for a suitable site for his vision, which he first penned out in early 2008 after a talk with Steve Geil, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County.
Geil concurred with the concept, indicating a deficiency in industrial parks for the county, especially those catering to rail-dependent companies shipping everything from glass, timber and metal to fuel, food and manufactured goods.
“For past 30 years we’ve missed out on a large industrial park and this is something we’ve needed drastically,” Geil said. “We have large segments of land that will be available for large international companies that understand the benefits of being in Fresno County and to those companies locally that want to expand their markets and get their products out there.”
Geil said besides savings in transportation costs to southern states and even north to Canada, the local economic impact will be enormous and create much needed business and jobs in the Fresno area.
In addition, he said, the Crossings may likely be used to help ship in aggregate for building materials at little cost, thus eliminating the need for new mines like the ongoing and controversial one proposed at Jesse Morrow Mountain just east of Sanger.
“The nice thing about that is the job creation is about equal,” Geil said. “So whether you bring jobs for intermodal operation or mining, you’re still adding jobs in.”