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Borderlands: TexAmericas Center looks to expand rail transload business

The TexAmericas Center in Texarkana, Texas, wants to expand it's railcar storage and transload operations to grow business in the region. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: The TexAmericas Center looks to expand its rail transload business; Mexico’s exports of commercial trucks fell 11.3% in September; Bridgestone completes a $100 million expansion in Mexico, creating 150 jobs; and a cold storage facility is set for Southern California.

TexAmericas Center looks to expand rail transload business

The TexAmericas Center received an $865,000 federal grant in July to build a railroad facility in Northeast Texas. 

Officials for the 12,000-acre industrial park are betting that with a nationwide shortage of truck drivers, more shippers are likely to see rail transport as a viable alternative for moving goods across the country.

In order to attract new customers and expand rail operations at TexAmericas, the center recently created the role of general manager of railroad and transload operations and announced the hiring of Darrell Thompson for the position.

Darrell Thompson

“I’ve been in the rail industry for about 31 years. I’ve known the people at TexAmericas for several years through customer connections and consulting work. I like working with them and their vision and where they are trying to take everything,” Thompson told FreightWaves.

Before joining TexAmericas Center, Thompson worked in various management positions at multiple organizations, managing both railroad and transload operations, as well as warehouse operations. Thompson also worked in Australia for two years to help rail operator Watco Cos. start an international venture.

“I love the rail industry, there’s something new all the time,” Thompson said. “I’ve worked with such a diverse group of people over the years and come in contact with different cultures and had some great industry leaders and teachers over the years.”

The TexAmericas Center is a mixed-use industrial park located in the northeast corner of Texas, about 20 miles west of Texarkana, and 180 miles east of Dallas. The center is located near Texas’ borders with Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

TexAmericas has about 3.5 million square feet of commercial and industrial product, with over 1.1 million square feet of space currently leased to 34 tenants.

Texarkana is a major east-west and north-south rail center, with seven rail lines converging in the area with over 125 trains passing through per day. Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, Texas Northeastern Railroad and Lone Star Rail Car Service currently serve TexAmericas and the surrounding area.

Dallas is the largest rail hub located near TexAmericas, particularly for intermodal. The Los Angeles-Dallas route is the second-densest intermodal lane after LA-Chicago.

FreightWaves SONAR’s shows a seven-day moving average of domestic loaded rail intermodal containers outbound from Dallas (ORAILL.DAL). It’s down slightly week-over-week, but above volumes for the same period in 2020.

Chart: FreightWaves SONAR (To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

TexAmericas owns more than 36 miles of rail and currently offers tenants a 12-car transload facility, servicing commodities such as aggregates (crushed stone, sand or gravel), timber, metals, building material and merchandise.

With the federal grant received in July, TexAmericas Center officials plan to refurbish the existing transload facility at the site, as well as build another transload and storage facility to increase services.

With transload, a railroad unloads goods, often raw materials, from a railcar and reloads them onto another form of transportation, such as a truck or ship.

“We have current tenants and potential tenants that want to expand their footprint here that are all interested in rail service,” Thompson said. 

The 36 miles of rail at TexAmericas has been used primarily for railcar storage over the last several years. TexAmericas officials want to continue to use it for storage, while utilizing the land for more services.

“My plans are to grow the railcar storage [capabilities] in addition to transload operations — there’s still a big demand for storage; however, there is an even bigger demand for transload in the Texarkana market,” Thompson said. “I am excited to be able to expand and grow our park in order to better serve our customers and community. There is no other transload facility within 100 miles that has our capabilities and capacity for growth.”

Mexico’s exports of commercial trucks fall 11.3% in September

Mexico’s production and exports of commercial trucks decreased in September, hampered by an ongoing shortage of semiconductors, according to Mexico’s National Association of Producers of Buses, Trucks and Tractors (ANPACT).

Truck makers manufactured 12,357 units in September, an 8% decline compared to 13,547 units in September 2020, and a 27% decrease compared to the same month in 2019.

Exports of heavy-duty trucks totaled 10,772 units in September, an 11.3% decrease from the same month last year.

Freightliner was the top truck maker and exporter during September. The company manufactured 7,742 trucks (a 13.5% year-over-year decline) and exported 7,238 units (a 17% year-over-year decline) compared to the same period last year. 

Bridgestone completes $100M expansion in Mexico, creating 150 jobs

Tire manufacturer Bridgestone recently completed the expansion of its plant in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca, which it said will increase its production by 15% annually.

The company expanded its manufacturing operations with a new 193,750-square-foot production facility to produce tires for passenger and commercial vehicles.  

Cuernavaca is located about 86 miles south of Mexico City. The Bridgestone plant in Cuernavaca opened in 1980 and currently employs more than 1,200 employees. It has an annual production capacity of around 6.5 million tires.

Tokyo-based Bridgestone Corp. is one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers. The Bridgestone Americas family of enterprises includes more than 50 production facilities and 55,000 employees throughout the Americas.

New cold storage facility set for Southern California

West Coast Cold Storage recently announced it is building a 127,000-square-foot facility in Jurupa Valley, California.

The facility will feature 70,000 square feet of freezer space and 50,000 square feet of cooler space. The warehouse space will have a clear height of 38 feet, allowing for more than 18,000 pallet positions and 19 refrigerated loading positions.

It will be located 50 miles east of Los Angeles and 122 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It aims to offer tenants storage solutions and access to surrounding major freeways for delivery throughout Southern California. It will create 75 new jobs.

West Coast Cold Storage is a privately held, women-owned and operated food-grade warehousing and 3PL services provider in Southern California. The company is based in Jurupa Valley.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]