"We are excited to open this state-of-the -art facility to serve our customers and the community," FEC President and Chief Executive Officer James Hertwig said during the grand opening event, which was attended by more than 200 community and business leaders statewide.
"This ICTF is a shining example of a successful public-private partnership between the FEC, Broward County and the state of Florida," said Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief. "This rail facility that we are welcoming today is an important link to our future."
Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director Steve Cernak credited Broward's Commission for having the foresight to plan for the facility 17 years ago.
"The ICTF ensures that Port Everglades remains competitive with other U.S. East Coast gateways and, most importantly, it will give our port a cost and time-to-market advantage over many of these gateways, thereby putting more and more South Florida residents to work as a result of the additional business opportunities it will generate," he said.
The 43-acre facility increases FEC's available intermodal capacity from 100,000 to 450,000 lifts a year and will improve the transfer of both domestic and international containers between ships and rail. Currently, these containers must be drayed off-port to rail terminals, such as the current 12-acre Andrews Avenue rail yard in Fort Lauderdale or to Hialeah rail yard in Miami-Dade County.
"The new ICTF is a huge win for the port," said Florida Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Richard Biter. "The project will enhance the port's competitiveness and will provide savings on a per container basis by shifting cargo from truck to rail. The department is proud to work with everyone involved to make today a reality."
The FEC ICTF will allow FEC to build 9,000-foot unit trains within the facility without blocking any city streets and will allow cargo to move through Port Everglades to/from Atlanta and Charlotte in two days and Nashville and Memphis in three days. FEC's connections to Class 1 railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern allow for rail service to 70 percent of the U.S. population within four days.
The ICTF is expected to reduce congestion on interstate highways and local roadways because loading and offloading cargo will take place at the port as opposed to offsite facilities. As a result, air emissions will be reduced by diverting an estimated 180,000 trucks from the roads by the year 2029.