Inland Transportation: The Key Role of Intermodal Hubs Across the U.S.

Worldwide, logistics systems are stressed because of market forces and international affairs. As general contractors are finding ways to circumvent the challenges to deliver on-time and on-budget solutions for their clients, larger forces are at play to help relieve tensions and find better efficiencies to get in-demand goods and materials where they need to be.

The move inland 

Seaports, especially those on the West Coast, have been overwhelmed since the start of the pandemic, and to alleviate some of the pressure they're seeing, inland intermodal hubs are beginning to see a resurgence. Trucking works well on shorter thoroughfares like the North-South Interstate I-35, but with high gas prices and a labor shortage of long-haul truck drivers, rail is a more efficient way to get goods long distances.

Major seaports like the Port of Los Angeles are reporting containers with a dwell time of 9+ days at 44.7% according to one of the Port's recent Import Containers by Dwell Time reports in early October 2022. These containers are waiting more than a week and a half before moving to their next transport and make up the largest group of import containers dwelling in the Port of Los Angeles. This port isn't alone in reporting long dwell times either. This trend has been seen at ports across the nation in recent months. 

As a result, there's been a shift to inland transportation to relieve the strain on the massive seaports and to help get goods to end-user consumers quicker and more efficiently. For example, Railway Company (BNSF) is working on a $1.5 billion investment in its new Barstow International Gateway (BIG) in Barstow, California, to help relieve freight pressure from the major ports. Additionally, the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, will, in part, fund the construction of railroad and inland port projects in the coming years. Some of the rail and port projects being funded by RAISE are located in Nevada, Florida, and Oklahoma, among several others.

Increasing warehouse demand

Where logistics centers exist, warehousing is never far away. As ports and intermodal centers are moving inland, additional warehousing is popping up to seize the market opportunity close to these major transportation arteries. This is especially prevalent in the U.S. Southwest region, where Warehouse Quote has seen demand for warehousing space increase by 19% from the first to second quarters of this year, according to its Warehouse Pricing Index.

"The attraction of being so near intermodal hubs is the accessibility to the trains and long-haul transportation," says Cory Lacy, Business Development Manager at MW Builders.

This is a major reason why MW Builders is seeing its clients building light industrial warehousing projects in both Oklahoma City, and Santa Teresa, New Mexico, around the major logistics parks in those regions. These projects are in progress, in addition to the several industrial construction projects the teams are building within a two to four-hour radius of several intermodal hubs throughout the middle of the country, from Texas to Iowa.

"Our developers understand the benefits of the building near intermodal hubs and that those centers are how businesses are getting goods to market quickly these days," Lacy continues, "building near intermodal hubs provides a competitive advantage as far as cost and time are concerned, even with the delays at the ports."

 National Reach

As a general contractor, MW Builders understands the importance of these market and building trends to its developers and can build quality industrial buildings quickly to help clients get their goods to end-users efficiently, making the most of proximity to transportation arteries.

With national reach, MW Builders can follow its clients wherever they are building. Its new office in Jacksonville, Florida, is strategically positioned to advance its existing presence in the Southeast and to support new and existing clients as they choose to develop projects in that region, including industrial construction in markets around growing intermodal hubs like the Port of Savannah in Savannah, Georgia.

According to the Georgia Ports Authority, the Port of Savannah is America’s single largest and fastest-growing container terminal. While this massive intermodal hub includes a seaport, it is also becoming a hub for the inland transportation arteries of the country with large expansion projects underway to increase container capacity near the Port’s rail systems.

Wherever developers choose to build, MW Builders has the understanding, expertise, and skill to provide its clients with excellent building products to meet their needs and to help ensure speed to market to the best of its ability.