Railway and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority reach new agreement

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Yvonne Prettner Solon returned to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority board of commissioners Tuesday for the first time since a four-year run of service ended in 1994. "I'm pleased to be back," she said in brief remarks via conference call — a disembodied voice from Arizona but an appreciated one. She heard a lot in her return, including Executive Director Vanta Coda saying that "we have a great amount of activity that is pending — with construction on (Docks) C and D to begin in two short weeks."

The $16 million renovation of Docks C and D features an up-to-90-year construction and operations agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway that was approved unanimously by the commissioners on Tuesday. A similar agreement with BNSF Railway means Docks C and D, when completed in September 2016, will be served by two rail providers to transport parcel and project cargo coming into the docks. The dual agreements are important, said Jeff Borling, the Port Authority's director of industrial and economic development, because they will keep the rehabilitated docks from becoming "captive rail," with only one provider. The Port Authority's Clure Public Marine Terminal has four Class I rail providers, an unusual and envious situation, Borling said.

"Rail and ports — we do things long-term," Borling said of the 15-year rail contracts with options out to 90 years.

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