Intermodal could mean growth for Baldwin City
With a $35 million grant possible from the recently passed state revenue package, the long-anticipated Kansas City Intermodal Facility in Edgerton should begin construction this year, state officials say.
The massive freight hub to be built on 433 acres in southern Johnson County could mean 8,700 permanent jobs during its 10-year build-up and 660 construction jobs in the near term. That will mean a big boost to the area and will likely spill over into Baldwin City, said Mayor Ken Wagner.
“I think job creation is a big need in our area and this should initiate the growth necessary to start the economic impact of this,” said Wagner. “I realize that it is controversial with some whom don’t want this growth in the area. I believe we can channel the growth in a positive way and keep our quality of life relatively unchanged in the Baldwin City area and coexist with our neighbors to the east.
“In a broader sense, this is even better for Edgerton, Gardner and southwest Johnson County, which will be impacted to a larger extent,” he said. “This has been a very divisive issue in those communities, but I suspect they will pull together and find common ground and support the growth that will come in their immediate area.”
The revenue bill provision means the state can make the $35 million grant now to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which will build the intermodal facility. The grant hinges on BNSF beginning construction before the end of the year. The grant is to be repaid from the utilities sales tax generated at the site, which will also include The Allen Group’s adjoining logistics park. The park will cover another 557 acres.
While Johnson County will see the greatest impact, Wagner believes it will mean growth to Baldwin City, too.
“A lot of people call southeast Douglas County and the Baldwin area home, and many of those same people want job opportunities in the communities they live in,” said Wagner. I think this is a very good opportunity to accommodate those people.
“We need growth and diversity in this community to make our community even more affordable to live in,” he said. “Spreading the tax base, increasing population and rooftops, providing jobs are all a part of what is necessary to support the financial commitments that we have already made and will make in the future. If we are not growing as a community, we likely are moving in a negative direction. We need to keep our community moving forward and be progressive.”