BNSF BIG – Barstow International Gateway

BNSF announced plans to construct Barstow International Gateway which will be a first of its kind intermodal facility with warehouses and transloading on-site and a switching yard for containers coming in and out of the ports of LA and Long Beach.

BNSF Railway Co. aims to invest more than $1.5 billion in a new Barstow facility that expands its role as an economic anchor in the High Desert and transforms the way global cargo moves across the U.S. from Southern California ports.

The private-railroad giant owned by Berkshire Hathway Inc. announced its plans for a “Barstow International Gateway” driven by “clean-energy powered cargo-handling equipment” at an all-day event Saturday meant to celebrate Barstow’s 75th year as an incorporated city.

The expected date of completion isn’t clear, and some regulatory hoops remain before construction can begin, but BNSF said the project will span about 4,500 acres on the west side of Barstow with a new “rail yard, intermodal facility and warehouses for transloading freight from international containers to domestic containers,” according to a company statement.

The company also predicts that this project will create 20,000 “direct and indirect jobs,” though it’s unclear how many of these jobs will be in Barstow versus those at the two cargo-receiving hubs connected to the site, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

In a statement, BNSF president and CEO Katie Farmer said, “The Barstow International Gateway will maximize rail and distribution efficiency regionally and across the U.S. supply chain and reduce truck traffic and freeway congestion in the Los Angeles Basin and the Inland Empire.

“This will play a critical role in improving fluidity throughout our rail network, moving containers off the ports quicker, and facilitating improved efficiency at our existing intermodal hubs, including those in the Midwest and Texas,” Farmer continued.

The current system of moving international cargo from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach centers on trucks hauling 40-foot shipping containers to warehouses in either Los Angeles or the Inland Empire, according to BNSF’s website. The goods in those containers are sorted and reloaded onto 53-foot containers, then trucked to a Los Angeles railyard to be transferred by train or simply driven by truck across the country.

“This process creates inefficiencies and unnecessary truck trips within the Los Angeles Basin and Inland Empire,” the website states.

The plan is for the Barstow International Gateway to change this by allowing cargo to be transferred from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach directly to Barstow via rail through the Alameda Corridor.