Tulsa to be marketed as ‘logistics center’

Marketing the Tulsa area as a “logistics center” serving every transportation need — water, air, rail and road — is the thrust of an agreement between the Tulsa Airport Authority and the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority.
The two authorities agreed at their separate November meetings to share marketing costs on joint efforts — about $10,000 each for a consultant — and amend portions of Foreign Trade Zone 53 boundaries within Tulsa International Airport.
The port is the primary sponsor of the FTZ that also extends to the airport and areas in Stillwater, Bartlesville and the Oklahoma Ordnance Works Authority in Pryor.
Robert W. Portiss, director of the port, said the marketing plan envisions relocating — with City of Tulsa concurrence — the old Santa Fe Railway marshaling yards near the OSU-Tulsa campus to somewhere near the airport.
The Santa Fe right of way from Winfield, Kan. to Tulsa is now operated as the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad — a unit of the WATCO Cos. of Pittsburg, Kan. — connecting to the port’s seven-mile rail lines at Owasso.
The port also has a three-mile line going south to meet with the Burlington Northern Railroad.
Portiss said a logistics center is “where we need to be in the future.”
When the economy improves the west coast ports along with the rail lines and highways from them will once again become overloaded and those ports on the east will reach capacity.
When expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in about five years it will be capable of taking larger container ships and other freighters.
In the future larger container ships may offload directly to barges in fleeting areas rather than at docks, Portiss said.
Tulsa is well placed to become a logistics center because of its location in the nation’s center with a highway and rail network, Tulsa International and the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, the country’s most inland, ice-free port.
A foreign trade zone allows an operator to hold imported goods without paying customs duties until they are marketed. They may also be incorporated into a finished product within the zone.
In addition to approving the agreement with the airport, the port authority approved a revision to its plan for building a locomotive storage and maintenance facility.
The project is to be divided into two phases with only the first phase for building 775 feet of track and associated switches at the north end of the port, inspection pit and wash rack. New federal regulations require locomotives to be washed every 90 days.
A 5,000 square-foot structure over the inspection pit and capable of holding four engines would be built later.
Phase I will cost an estimated $340,000.
Initially, the entire project had an estimated cost of $475,000.
Cost will be paid from the port’s rail maintenance reserve fund that receives about $60 in switching fees from each rail car. About 1,000 rail cars go through the port each month.
Shippers moved 130,978 tons of cargo through the port on 72 barges during October, up from 786,055 tons and 48 barges a month earlier, but below the comparable month a year earlier when 147,398 tons and 92 barges moved through the port.
Outbound traffic accounted for 80,564 tons and 39 barges during October while inbound cargo totaled 50,414 tons on 33 barges.
Traffic at the port accounted for 61 percent of the 231,900 tons moved along the Oklahoma portion of the Arkansas Waterway and 17 percent of the 770,198 tons carried along is entire length.

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