Allen County will partner with Fort Wayne on a pilot project to determine whether the community can support an intermodal facility.
The county commissioners on Friday unanimously supported an agreement to pay up to $82,500 to help finance a pilot project on the city’s east side. The agreement calls for committing at least $55,000 to finance the project through June. The money will be paid to the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance, which is overseeing the pilot project.
Economic development officials have long looked to bring an intermodal facility to the area, where tractor-trailer rigs would load and unload freight to and from railroad cars.
The old Casad Depot just east of New Haven has been mentioned numerous times as a possible location for the facility.
County Commissioner Therese Brown said the money will allow Triple Crown Services to rent equipment to operate a facility at the Piqua Yards on Wayne Trace between Anthony Boulevard and Pontiac Street. She said the intent of the government-financed pilot project is to show there is a demand for such a service in the community.
Transporting goods by rail is far cheaper than by truck, and having an intermodal facility here would make it cheaper to send and receive materials – if it can generate enough traffic.
John Urbahns, Fort Wayne director of community development, said the city paid $55,000 to finance the first three months of the pilot program. He said that after the commissioners’ phase is finished, the two governments will evaluate whether to continue the trial. County officials said the trial would almost certainly have to last a year, given the cyclical nature of the shipping industry.
If successful, the facility could lower the cost of doing business for area industries by keeping them from having to ship materials to and from Chicago by truck. Although Chicago is relatively close, Commissioner Linda Bloom said the volume of traffic there causes chronic delays, which could make an intermodal facility here feasible.
Urbahns said there has been some early success from the pilot, as cargo cars are being moved there every week.