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Snagging Pacific Rim business
Rail expansion key to at least 670 new jobs
Union Pacific representatives last fall discussed the intermodal expansion project with Del Webb at Woodbridge residents. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Oakland’s loss is Manteca’s gain.

Union Pacific Railroad’s decision to quadruple its Lathrop intermodal yard that transfers shipping containers from rail to truck and vice versa is creating what industrial real estate expertsconsider “an ideal” situation for firms that deal in consumer goods that enter the United States markets via the Port of Oakland.

The intermodal expansion and shifting of a part of the transfer traffic out of Oakland is what prompted CenterPoint to purchase land directly across from the UP facility located along the western side of the railroad tracks west of Airport Way and bordering Roth Road and secure entitlements for development.

The tenants for the four-million-square-foot business park are expected to do a lot of their business by taking delivery of containers via an extremely short truck drive using a private crossing to the UP facility. The contents of the containers will then be repackaged and then shipped to domestic markets again using containers that will be moved by truck via the private crossing for placement on rail cars.

It is a same concept several employers in Spreckels Park use - such as Terrell Transportation - where trucks bring in shipments of consumer goods from a manufacturer that are then broken down repackaged and loaded for shipping via truck to various markets in the western United States.

“It (the intermodal expansion) will generate a lot of jobs,” said Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford who was among those briefed Wednesday by UP officials on development plans for the intermodal facility.

The expansion of the intermodal facility is expected to double the current workforce of 67 railroad workers to 137. CenterPoint’s future tenants are expected to provide 600 permanent jobs.

That, however, is expected to be just the tip of the iceberg. The UP move will increase the demand for truck transportation in the area plus make the immediate community - Manteca and Lathrop particularly - even more attractive to firms that are starting to do more and more cross-country shipping by rail due to the trips for trains to the intermodal facility.

Manteca also has the advantage of a second intermodal facility operated by Santa Fe railroad just under 210 miles northeast of Manteca on Jack Tone Road.

“This is a win-win for everyone,” said Weatherford. “There wasn’t even a need to provide any stimulus to get them (the railroad) and CenterPoint to expand” in the Lathrop-Manteca area.

Union Pacific has commissioned an environmental impact report that addresses developing 142.5 acres to the south and east of the existing facility. The complete facility will cover 277 acres.

The average daily truck trips would go from 954 today to 2,186 at complete build-out. It would mean the average number of trucks per hour leaving or departing the intermodal facility would go from 39.75 every hour to 91. Weekend traffic is 5 to 10 percent of work day traffic

Monday would be the heaviest day for truck movement at build-out with 2,585 trips compared to 1,056 today.

Currently the intermodal facility can “lift” - remove and place truck trailers on specially designed railroad flat cars - some 270,000 container a year. At build-out that number will reach 730,000 lifts.

To reduce congestion and to address air quality concerns, the project will replace nine manual gates with 10 automatic gates. That will allow for a quicker flow of trucks into the facility to reduce idling time.

The entrance would be moved farther back from Roth Road to accommodate more trucks. Additional turn lanes will also be constructed on Roth Road.

An indirect access road to Lathrop Road will be made for employee traffic only. No cargo will leave - or access - the UP intermodal facility using Lathrop Road.

The number of storm retention ponds would go from four to seven to accommodate the run-off from paving over 184 additional acres with asphalt. Currently there are 86 acres of pavement for container parking and truck movements.

It also includes an internal road to cross the tracks to the proposed CenterPoint Business Park to allow goods to be moved between the two points without having to use public roads.

UP spokesmen point out that the facility expansion ultimately will reduce truck traffic on major freeways as one freight train moving trailer containers does the work of 280 long-distance trucks.

The expansion would take three years but it may take longer to reach capacity depending upon market conditions.