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600 jobs coming down the tracks
CenterPoint breaking ground in the coming months
Trucks enter the Union Pacific Intermodal Facility in Lathrop earlier this week. The expansion of the UP operation is the big drawing card for the Manteca CenterPoint project that will generate 600 jobs. - photo by HIME ROMERO

CenterPoint Properties is preparing to move forward in the coming months with the groundbreaking of their Manteca project that’s expected to generate 600 permanent jobs.

Tom Terpstra – an attorney representing the Illinois concern that was acquired and privatized in 2006 by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) – told the City Council Tuesday that the firm is now in discussions with potential users.

CalPERS plans to invest $175 million into the 168-acre project west of Airport Way between Lathrop and Roth roads and directly across the tracks from the Union Pacific intermodal yards. Some 4 million square feet of logistics/distribution space will be built. There are four structures planned ranging from 132,778 square feet to 1,491,718 square feet. The biggest distribution center in Manteca today is Ford Motor Small Parts at 550,000 square feet in Spreckels Park.

The project will generate 1,400 jobs. Of those 800 are construction jobs and 600 would be permanent jobs.

What is making the Manteca project appealing to potential users is its location  adjacent to the UP facility preparing to expand from 220,000 lifts to 700,000 lifts a year. A lift refers to the loading or unloading of a truck trailer for the rail-to-truck - and vice versa operations.

Users are expected to have large logistics and distributor needs that require tearing down products and either repackaging or reassembling and then prepare them for distribution. The project will have direct access to the UP yard to significantly reduce the potential impact for truck traffic.

Rail intermodal trailer and container moves have more the double since 1989 going from just under 6 million a year to 12 million.

CenterPoint notes that:

• intermodal traffic volume is up 5.4 percent in 2011 over 2010 levels.

• Santa Fe Railroad believes it can ultimately convert another 7 to 8 million loads in its service corridor to intermodal. Union Pacific estimates there are 11 million loads annually that they can add to their intermodal service.

• The Santa Fe’s intermodal location for Northern California is less than 15 miles from the CenterPoint location.

• The Manteca site is within an hour by rail of the Port of Oakland, the sixth busiest container port in North America with 2,050,030 container units passing through to in 2010.

• Transportation costs are 50.3 percent of the cost of logistics for a typical company. The direct connection to the UP intermodal yard goes a long way to reducing those costs.

Manteca is also at the heart of the third largest market — 17 million consumers — within a 100-mile radius behind New York-Long Island and Los Angeles. It is what attracted Bass Pro Shops to Manteca. That means trucks can travel to and from the distribution center to stores serving 17 million consumers easily within an eight-hour drive.

The site is virtually smack dab at the midway point of Highway 99 and Interstate 5 accessed by Lathrop Road. It is also connected to the Highway 120 Bypass directly via Airport Way, which also provides access to Stockton Metro Airport.

If the distribution center materializes, it will be one of a kind in terms of location and size in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.