MOJAVE — As plans progress for a massive inland port in Mojave, residents had a few questions for the company behind it.
Morgan Hill, Chief Operating Officer of Pioneer Partners 2000, spoke to the Mojave Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday, to detail the project plans.
“We want to share the message, get input from you and see what we need to do next,” he said.
The Texas-based company plans to build the Mojave Inland Port on 410 acres at the southeast corner of state highways 14 and 58, north of the Mojave Air and Space Port.
The project is intended to help alleviate congestion at the busy ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, providing relief from some aspects of the supply chain problems that plague the state.
The proposed facility will handle cargo containers brought to Mojave via rail from the ports, and transfer them to trucks for further distribution. Empty containers would be transferred back to the ports in the same manner.
The Kern County Board of Supervisors approved the project’s designation as an inland port, earlier this month.
One reason for the congestion at the ports is the lack of available land to store containers until they can be moved out, Hill said.
“We have some land,” he said, which straddles an under-utilized rail line that can be used to bring the containers out from the ports.
One concern of Mojave residents is that rail line crosses Highway 14/Sierra Highway, the main route through town. Right now, when the more occasional trains use it, it stops traffic, creating backups that can last quite some time. More frequent trains will mean more traffic headaches.
Initially, plans call for one train per day to the port, in order to make financial sense, Hill said. However, they hope to increase to about a dozen trains daily.
Hill said the company has plans for an overpass where the tracks cross the highway, and are looking at opportunities to mitigate traffic issues associated with the port.
Trucks will leave the inland port via Highway 58 and Highway 14. Market information suggests that the San Bernardino area is “a target-rich environment” for cargo for large retailers such as Amazon, Home Depot and Costco, Hill said.
As they continue to pursue the project, the company may find opportunities elsewhere, as well, he said.
One selling point for the inland port is that, in addition to rail and road, the port could also use the adjacent Mojave Air and Space Port for cargo operations, Hill said.
Mojave Air and Space Port Director Jim Balentine asked just how the firm envisions those operations.
Seeing more opportunities for air cargo operations, they hope to bring airplanes in to utilize the airport’s 12,500-foot runway, transferring the cargo to rail or trucks for distribution, Hill said.
As the inland port abuts the Mojave Air and Space Port’s north boundary, they hope to have a separate entrance at that side of the airfield for access, he said.
The company hopes and expects the port will attract other businesses, and has about 100 acres of commercial-zoned property that could be used for related business.
The port itself is expected to eventually create about 2,675 jobs, with a payroll of $226 million, and an annual economic impact of $500 million, Hill said.
The company is finalizing drawings for construction and expects to break ground on the project, next year, he said.
The roads are not designed for this massive capacity of trucks. The traffic and the damage to the roads in each direction for miles will be intolerable. Kern County Planning department has plans to do a small number of road modifications, but this will only make this mess 1% better at most. I know Lorelei Oviatt the ruthless head of planning for Kern County and a real disaster was given green paper to make this happen, so we don't have a choice.
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