Railroad Will Build Transfer Facility at Victorville's Cargo Airport

VICTORVILLE - BNSF Railway Co. and the city of Victorville have agreed to a memorandum of understanding to explore development of a major intermodal logistics facility at Southern California Logistics Airport.

The facility will be part of the 3,500-acre Southern California Rail Complex and will establish Victorville as an alternative for companies currently using the intermodal facility in San Bernardino.

"As San Bernardino and Redlands build out, this proposed facility could really benefit," said regional economist John Husing. "It will definitely be an alternative for goods now moving through San Bernardino."

That's the plan for Victorville, which suffered the loss of more than 5,000 jobs when the federal government shut down George Air Force Base in 1992.

"To me, hands down, the darkest time in the history of Victorville was the closure of George Air Force Base," Vicotrville Councilman Mike Rothschild said in a release. "That was such a tremendous hit to our local economy, it was hard to imagine how we could recover.

"BNSF's potential development of an intermodal facility could help ensure that we are never again dependent on a single entity for our survival the way we were dependent on that base."

BNSF is a subsidiary of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Co. and is among the world's top transporters of intermodal traffic.

"We constantly review the need for capacity expansion across the network," said John P. Lanigan, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of BNSF. "We have signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Victorville to further explore the possibility of establishing intermodal operations in Victorville."

Intermodal transport involves moving containers between different conveyances. The containers often come into the country on ships and are moved either to trains or trucks.

The logistics airport in Victorville has two intercontinental runways and can handle all types of commercial and military aircraft with 24/7 tower operations and daily onsite U.S. Customs officials.

That and the growing supply chain congestion throughout the Southland would seemingly make Victorville an ideal site for major expansion.

The 3,500-acre complex adjacent to the airport has the potential for as much as 20 million square feet of manufacturing and distribution uses and could conceivably generate 20,000 jobs.

Stirling, a Foothill Ranch-based development company, will work with BNSF and the city to develop that component of the project.

"Logistics is one of the most stable, enduring industries there is," said JoAnn Almond, Victorville's mayor pro tem. "No matter what happens, goods will have to be moved. And that means that the working families who live in Victorville will be able to have decent, high-paying jobs and be able to spend time with their children and spouses."

Councilman Rudy Cabriales also spoke of the benefit of jobs that don't require local residents to cross the Cajon Pass.

"Bringing in transportation, manufacturing and distribution facilities creates jobs at all levels," he said. "We want our work force to work at home, shop at home and play at home. We need to keep our residents invested in the community to maintain a high quality of life."

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