Herbert Announces Inland Port Committee
Gov. Gary Herbert announced Monday that an exploratory committee has been formed to evaluate a proposal to create an inland port in the Salt Lake City area. While the Beehive State has its advantages, infrastructure improvements need to be made for the project to move forward.
The port would act as a hub for trade by combining rail and trucking services, warehousing, and distribution. World Trade Center Utah CEO Derek Miller said that Salt Lake City has many advantages that would make it a prime location for and inland port.
“If you want to get goods on a rail from the East to the West, you’re either going through Utah or you’re going through El Paso, Texas. We’re the crossroads of the West as it relates to the interstate freeway systems,” Miller said. “We’re the intersection of the major arterial lines, with the I-15, the I-80, and the I-70. To be the ninth-fastest growing export state in the country is a remarkable thing and we have a very internationally engaged population.”
An August study from the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute backs up much of what Miller sees in the state’s potential. However, the report highlights the need for increased attention to road accessibility. Miller added that Herbert’s exploratory committee will help evaluate whether an inland port is the right investment for Utah.
“We’ve still got work to do, and that doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s not as if we’re in a position where we can just go throw up a sign that says, ‘Inland Port,’ and we’re ready to do business. We’re going to look at not just the costs but also the benefits,” he said. “We believe that the foundation is there. I don’t presuppose that we’re going to have greenlights all the way. The purpose of the exploratory committee is to figure out what is lacking, what would the costs be, what would the benefits be. That will help us make a wise decision.”
The study also raised Utah’s tight labor market as a potential issue with regards to filling job openings at the proposed port.