Discussions on the possibility of developing a rail transloading terminal in Lincoln County were held during the June 4 meeting of the Lincoln County Regional Development Authority.

Executive Director Jeff Fontaine said the Union Pacific Railroad has had a long history in the county including the main freight line connection between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. “As such,” he noted, “the railroad going through Caliente is an important asset for economic development.”

By definition, transloading is the process of transferring a shipment from one mode of transportation to another. It is most commonly employed when one mode cannot be used for the entire trip, such as when goods must be shipped internationally from one inland point to another. Such a trip might require transport first by truck, to an airport or dock; then by plane or ship; and then by another truck to its destination. Or it might involve bulk material on a truck, or rail terminal, taken to a ship or a plane at a port.

Fontaine said he told those at the meeting, “The UPRR mainline would provide a significant opportunity to develop key industries, such as mining, manufacturing, and biomass that could export materials.”

A rail port is a significant infrastructure project that requires study, and a feasibility study should be undertaken as soon as possible to evaluate a number of factors. Those factors, he explained, include the need, the cost, the location, and local support.

Biomass is one product that could be exported out of a local rail port and so could locally available minerals perlite and pozzolan, useful components and/or effective substitutes for Portland cement.

Board members approved a motion to have Fontaine prepare a scope of work for a feasibility study to construct and operate a rail transload terminal, which can later be used as a basis for requests for proposals or statements of qualifications for evaluating and contracting with an appropriate engineering/financial consultant to conduct a full-blown feasibility study.