A long-planned intermodal ramp in Wallula is once again on track thanks to a new investor.
The investor, who isn’t yet ready to be named publicly, has breathed new life into the project that at one point was set to finish this fall but then was thrown into question after its parent company shut down. Now, it appears the ramp – which has been billed as the region’s only privatized, state-of-the-art intermodal ramp – should open in early 2024, said Ted Prince, chief executive officer of Tri-Cities Intermodal LLC, which is the new company formed to bring the project to reality.
“The facility at Wallula has been a game of chutes and ladders, but we are very grateful for our new investor’s support and the patience of the local stakeholders, which we believe will finally be rewarded early next year,” Prince told the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.
Prince was co-founder of Tiger Cool Express, the Kansas-based logistics company behind the intermodal ramp project planned for property on Railex Road off Highway 12 in Wallula. Once it’s finished, the facility will position the area to become a major transportation hub, Prince has said.
The project will open up routes to Seattle and Tacoma docks and as far east as Chicago, and service could eventually expand to the I-5 corridor and Mexico, Prince has said.
The intermodal ramp isn’t like a freeway off-ramp; instead, it’s a place where agricultural and manufactured goods are transferred between trucks and trains. The site also has cold storage.
Tiger Cool Express officials this past spring opened up the site to stakeholders and media as they worked to finish the intermodal ramp and bring it online. They forecasted a September opening.
But then in June, Tiger Cool Express abruptly shut down amid a sharp decline in business as shipping volumes dropped. The move led to layoffs and questions about whether the intermodal ramp in Wallula would ever happen, though there was hope a new investor would swoop in.
Prince said he’s glad the new investor materialized. The investor recently visited the Wallula site.
“I’ve been working on this for two years, so it’s gratifying to see it take the next step,” Prince said.
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