City of MP awarded $700k LIFTS grant

City working with Burlington Junction Railway to build transload site

The City of Mt. Pleasant has been awarded a $700,000 LIFTS Grant by the Iowa Transportation Commission to build a railroad transfer station in the Crossroads Industrial Park.

A transload facility is a transfer point where bulk materials can be moved from semi-trailers to trains to ship products at a lower cost. The transload site will be located on Maple leaf Drive, adjacent to the short line railroad owned by Burlington Junction Railway.

“It gives our community another advantage to selling ourselves to the business world and industrial world,” said Brent Schleisman, city administrator. “We have options and this is a great place to be located. We’re ecstatic about it. We’ve wanted this for a long time. We’re really pleased to work with the Burlington railroad to make this a reality.”

The City of Mt. Pleasant will contract with Burlington Junction Railway to build, manage and maintain the transload facility. The project has long been an objective for local city and business leaders.

Burlington Junction Railway plans to break ground later this fall, and anticipates opening the transfer station in the spring of 2020. Kristi Ray, executive vice president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, said Burlington Junction Railway will be making improvements throughout the summer on the rail before they break ground to build a transload station in the fall.

“This facility will be a great asset to our local economy, lowering shipping costs for Southeast Iowa companies and giving the area another tool to attract business,” Ray said.

AJ Martin, with Burlington Junction Railway, said that the transload facility will open up more freight opportunities for any kind of bulk material and enable food-grade refrigerated boxcar traffic.

“Any kind of meat or processed foods that need to be refrigerated can go out by rail car. We will be able to do that for the new facility,” Martin said. “We are incredibly excited for the next chapter of our Mt. Pleasant location. I live there now, my kids go to the Mt. Pleasant school district, and I’m super excited for the community.”

The transload facility in Mt. Pleasant will be one of only eight other transload sites in Iowa. Ray said that while almost every town has a way to transfer product from rail to truck, there aren’t many with an actual transload site, and it will be a great asset to Mt. Pleasant’s local economy.

“It’s very exciting to us,” Ray said. “Some people may not understand how important it is for companies who are relocating to look at moving products as fast as they can by truck and rail. The transload site is a coordination between the two.”

This grant was a cooperative effort between the City of Mt. Pleasant, Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, Mt. Pleasant Area Development Commission and Burlington Junction Railways.

“This is a very exciting project for Mt. Pleasant. This site will be an excellent tool used to attract new companies to Mt. Pleasant. This also will be an asset for our existing companies looking for new ways to move their products,” Mt. Pleasant Mayor Steve Brimhall said in a news release.

The Iowa Transportation Commission approved more than $1.4 million in grant funding for two transportation infrastructure related development projects under the Linking Iowa’s Freight Transportation System (LIFTS) program. The LIFTS program provides grants for projects that help meet the changing demands of Iowa’s multimodal freight system. The program provides funding for freight projects that have economic and public benefit by enhancing the shipment of freight but are typically ineligible for state or federal highway funding. The projects will assist in providing more efficient transportation of products using rail, truck and airfreight at multiple locations in Iowa.

“A transload facility gives more options to go out and recruit new businesses,” Schleisman said. “It’s another feather in Mt. Pleasant and Henry County’s cap.”