Duluth Cargo Connect, a partnership between Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing, has already led to an intermodal terminal that processes about 225 shipping containers per month.
The Atlantic Ocean isn’t visible from Duluth’s waterfront, but it’s closer than it feels: a straight-enough shot down lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, and on out through the St. Lawrence Seaway.
With the opening of northern Minnesota’s first rail-served intermodal terminal in 2017, Duluth is now a lot closer to the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, too.
The intermodal terminal is the fruit of Duluth Cargo Connect, or DCC, a new official partnership between the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing and part of a larger investment klatch totaling $25 million. Related initiatives include a road de-bottlenecking project, which allows heavy trucks to navigate the terminal area, and a major cargo area renovation, which includes acres of new “laydown” space for bulky items, like wind turbine blades.
The intermodal terminal processes about 225 containers per month, with room to expand and full capacity still four years off. But it’s just one part of a much larger operation.
“The intermodal terminal is the third leg of the port’s stool,” said Kate Ferguson, director of business development at the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. The other two: the port’s maritime shipping facility and its massive warehousing and distribution footprint.
DCC’s partners expect the intermodal terminal and related investments to provide long-term stability amid a changing cargo mix. At the turn of the century, lumber and steel products dominated port volumes, said Jonathan Lamb, president of Lake Superior Warehousing. Today, the cargo mix is much more diverse. Dimensional “project cargo,” such as turbine blades, oil and gas equipment, and electrical transformers, account for a much larger share.
SOURCE: Finance & Commerce