Study suggests traffic changes in northwest Miami County
Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 8:00 am By Allysha Newton
By Allysha Newton | 0 comments
In just a few weeks, the new BNSF Intermodal Facility and Logistics Park Kansas City is set to open, heralding regional economic promise, a spike in traffic on Interstate 35 and a somewhat mysterious impact on traffic in the northern regions of Miami County.
During their study session Sept. 11, Miami County Economic Development Director Janet McRae caught up the Miami County Commission and other local officials on the results of the recently completed Southwest Johnson County Transportation Study and its potential implications on Miami County’s transportation system.
The facility, a 1,000-acre distribution center and inland port, will likely start accepting trains in the first week of October, and the grand opening is planned for Oct. 17. On opening day, traffic on I-35 is expected to leap from about 38,000 vehicles a day near Gardner to 44,000. Streets that previously only saw a few hundred cars a day will see exponential traffic growth — 199th street, one of those lower-traffic roads, is expected to have about 3,600 vehicles on opening day.
While the study focuses on transportation needs around Gardner and Edgerton where the intermodal is located, McRae’s concern, she explained to the commission, is about the statistics on the edges of the study area. Edgerton’s long-term plan includes annexation into Miami County, and many of the roads studied extend into Miami County.
The study’s southern boundary is 215th Street, right at the Johnson/Miami county line. While traffic numbers aren’t as high here as the northern arterials, traffic counts are expected to soar as the intermodal grows.
Gardner Road and Sunflower Road log under 1,000 cars a day, according to the study, and currently continue into Miami County near Hillsdale Lake. According to the study, traffic here will likely expand rapidly until hitting about 5,400 to 6,100 vehicles a day in 25 years. As McRae pointed out, “Those trucks don’t disappear at the county line.”
McRae and Road and Bridge Department Director J.R. McMahon both said the county will need to take a serious look at infrastructure in this area. First, McRae said she plans to discuss the study methods with representatives from the Mid-America Regional Council in order to better glean what traffic impacts to anticipate.
Intermodal to bring trucks and economic promise
Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 8:00 am By Allysha Newton
Local drivers who have traveled on Interstate 35 in southern Johnson County have likely noticed a large amount of dirt, concrete and machinery in constant motion outside of Edgerton.
While the physical effects of the new intermodal on its surrounding area in Johnson County are easy to see, the economic effects of this facility on Miami County are more subtle, but bring a great deal of promise, local leaders say.
The BNSF Kansas City Intermodal Facility is essentially an inland port. Instead of loading crates from a shipyard onto boats, large rail-based cranes will lower boxes from warehouses in 535-acre Logistics Park Kansas City onto and off of trains to ship across the nation.
One of the biggest questions area leaders have is, once those trucks leave the intermodal, where will they go?
Analysts anticipate the majority of this heavy traffic will travel through the large network of interstates and highways in the Kansas City metro area. Miami County Economic Development Director Janet McRae said county leaders are keeping a close eye on how traffic on Kansas City’s already busy highways may affect the ways truckers choose to navigate.
When the intermodal is at capacity, truck traffic is expected to reach 11,000 vehicles a day.
“We’re eventually going to get some traffic on our county roads,” McRae said. “The majority are going to be headed to I-35… but people with CDL licenses are only able to drive for so many hours per day. They’re not getting paid to burn fuel in traffic. We’ll see them looking for ways to get to where they need to be faster.”
McRae said east-west arteries like 223rd Street and Kansas Highway 68 may be options for drivers looking for a way to avoid heavy city traffic, and as a result, the county would have to invest more in its road infrastructure, especially in the northwest corner of the county. Participation in groups like the Mid-America Regional Council is helping Miami County better anticipate these opportunities, she said.
The state of Kansas has already anticipated a massive increase in traffic on local roads and has begun preparing for this influx with projects like the I-35/Homestead Lane Interchange and the first diverging diamond interchange in the state.
“What sets them apart is a tremendous amount of public infrastructure investment prior to the completion of the intermodal facility,” Edgerton City Administrator Beth Linn said in a March presentation to the Miami County Commission. “I really commend KDOT for doing a great job in looking for a way to keep traffic from blocking the roadways.”
Miami County’s roads would also need to prepare for heavier, more frequent truck traffic should some warehouses decide to locate in the county. McRae said the county has achieved Foreign Trade Zone status – an attractive quality for international businesses.
Not all the businesses taking advantage of the intermodal facility will be shipping products from overseas. DeLong Company has already leased space at the logistics park and distributes local grain.
“This was a wonderful surprise,” Linn said. “When we first started talking, we thought the intermodal would be shipping shirts and stuff from the west, but they take crops from area co-ops. They’re family-owned, and this is a tremendous idea of Kansas/Midwestern products being exported from right here.”
Perhaps the most promising effects on Miami County are more residual than direct. For example, this massive logistics park and intermodal will require a workforce that’s expected to reach 12,000 people. That workforce will include a range of occupations, from people to man equipment and boxes in warehouses to workers who operate and maintain the state-of-the-art technology that keeps the intermodal running briskly and efficiently.
The jobs it will create can even span outside the logistics park’s boundaries.
“They’re going to need crane operators, but they’re also going to need hydraulic hose,” McRae said. “They’re going to need an HR staff, cleaning services – there are all these spinoffs from the basic intermodal functions that we could benefit from.”
These employees will also need a place to live. Edgerton is anticipating significant growth as intermodal business increases, and part of the city’s long-term plan, Linn confirmed, is to annex into Miami County.
With most of the county’s workforce traveling north for their jobs, serving as a home for a blossoming workforce “is something we do really well,” McRae said.
“That’s Miami County’s heyday,” Commissioner Rob Roberts said. “That’s our token. Residential development is the key to our future.”
Those who are keeping a close eye on the intermodal say there will be a clearer vision of what the facility’s effect will be after it opens in the fourth quarter of 2013. At a sneak peek April 5, several of the Miami County commissioners and other local leaders visited the site and came back with optimistic reports.
“It’s very exciting,” McRae said. “There are a variety of opportunities for the county, depending on where these industries want to go.”