Kansas City’s rise to major logistics hub

Kansas City has fast become a major logistics hub. In fact, according to the Journal of Commerce, Kansas City is the largest US freight hub in terms of tonnage. It can reach 85% of the US population within two days and has access connections to five Class I railroads.

The latest expansion announcement comes from BNSF Railway which along with its partner, NorthPoint Development, plans to build an industrial rail spur that will eventually accommodate 3.4m sq ft of rail-served space, in addition to the 11m sq ft of warehouse building capacity at Logistics Park Kansas City.

Indeed, Logistics Park Kansas City opened with great fanfare in late 2013 with BNSF’s intermodal yard anchoring it. Currently, the facility is able to handle 500,000 shipping containers annually. The park itself has attracted six tenants – DeLong Grain, DEMDACO, Flexsteel, ITL, Kubota and Smart Warehousing.

But, BNSF’s Logistics Park Kansas City is not the only such facility in the area. Situated on the Missouri side of Kansas City, CenterPoint-Kansas City Southern Intermodal Center located on the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, is a 370 acre intermodal facility anchored by Kansas City Southern rail lines. Adjacent to the facility is an expanding 940 acre industrial park with tenants such as the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. While BNSF’s facility serves primarily BNSF’s rail line that runs west to east, CenterPoint-Kansas City Southern Intermodal Center also provides rail access to Port of Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico, and the Panama Canal, and Gulf Coast seaports.

Rail intermodal has been growing at break neck speeds over the past few years. Although it has slowed a bit at 2.3% for the first six months of this year, expectations remain high for its continued growth. In fact, the Intermodal Association of North America expects 2015 intermodal growth to exceed 2014’s 4.4% gain thanks to declines in oil prices and the strong US dollar.

And while concerns still linger from recent congestion issues at US west coast ports, links to rail lines supporting US east coast ports, Canadian ports, Mexican ports and US Gulf ports will further sustain these important logistics hubs, due in large part to Kansas City’s geographic location and ability to reach 85% of the US population within two days.