Railroad port proposed

Published 11:52 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A representative of the Buckingham Branch Railroad gave a presentation to the Heartland Regional Industrial Authority to propose an inland port that would be located at the Heartland Business Park in Keysville.

Brian Freeman, director of sales and marketing with Buckingham Branch Railroad, told members of the authority Tuesday that an inland port could hold some potential benefits for the region.

Brian Freeman

Freeman defined an inland port as a location where containerized freight can be moved to or from a coastal location to an inland location for further distribution.

He noted that the benefits to the business park being the location for the port include that the park is located in an enterprise zone, that it is approximately 100 miles from several large manufacturers and distribution centers, including centers in Farmville, Danville and Lynchburg, and owned by local government.

Freeman said the port would most likely be contingent on whether a Class-1 railroad company supports the port location.

Freeman said the target market area would be from Roanoke to Keysville, primarily south of Highway 460 and north of the North Carolina border.

“A truck trying to go from Roanoke all the way to the port of Virginia, that’s going to take them an entire day,” Freeman said during the presentation. “That same driver would much rather come halfway, drop it here in Keysville, and get back and stay with their families that night.”

Freeman said he reached out to a Class-1 railroad company about the possibility of developing a port in Keysville.

Freeman said he is in the process of working with state and local economic development organizations to coordinate an effort to conduct a market research study. The study, Freeman said, will measure shippers level of interest for the service and help determine if the project is economically viable.

Authority Chairman Gary Walker asked about the next steps involved in this process.

Freeman suggested that authority members create a list of companies in their respective counties that ship items and send the list to Freeman, who will then look to either schedule a meeting or email the survey to these companies.

Buckingham County Administrator Rebecca Carter asked if the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) could potentially assist in compiling the list of companies.

CRC Executive Director Melody Foster said the CRC had been in contact with Freeman and Sheri McGuire with the Longwood Small Business Development Center, and that they were interested in assisting.