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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 7, 2006, 2:50 PM
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Wink Chicago West on the North Saskatchewan

Chicago West on the North Saskatchewan
Edmonton poised to become transport hub -- if it makes the right moves


David Finlayson
The Edmonton Journal

Thursday, December 07, 2006

EDMONTON - Edmonton could become a multi-pronged transportation hub similar to Chicago if the right moves are made in developing infrastructure, business leaders say.

But it means being proactive in applying for duty-free port status, moving faster on finishing the ring road and other highway improvements, and lobbying for even more development of the Prince Rupert port facility.

And the capital area must work together on a unified transportation plan, even so far as forming a regional transportation authority, Edmonton chamber of commerce chairman Jackson von der Ohe said.

While the completion of the southwest portion of the Anthony Henday ring road is welcome, if overdue, the pressure must be kept on the provincial government to complete the northern section by the promised 2011, he said.

And the city must complete the inner-loop upgrades as soon as possible, including the 23rd Avenue-Calgary Trail intersection, 170th Street, 121st Street, the Yellowhead Highway and the St. Albert Trail-Yellowhead intersection.

And combining all these projects with the establishment of a port in Edmonton would create a world-class transportation centre, von der Ohe said.

"An Alberta port in Edmonton as a centre for rail, road, pipe and air would put another leg under our table and we wouldn't be so dependent on oil and gas."

Chicago has become a U.S. hub for imports and exports, rail, and oil and gas pipelines, and there's no reason Edmonton couldn't do the same.

It's critical the port be duty free so containers can be broken apart and repacked with value-added goods, von der Ohe said.

It would a be designated area with rail access, where you could store goods, repackage them into smaller parcels and add value without paying customs or tariffs until the container reaches its destination.

The value-added part is especially important for local businesses, he said.

The chamber met with federal Tory caucus members two weeks ago, and although it was a new concept to them, they were "quite interested," von der Ohe said.

"We've got a beautiful rail line to a beautiful deep sea port in Prince Rupert. And while what CN is doing there in building container facility is great, much more needs to be done there."

See TRANSPORT / back of section

We should be looking at Europe and Asia where automation and robotics is making the loading and unloading of ships so much faster, he said. A supership can be unloaded in the Netherlands in 18-22 hours, while in Canada it takes 12-16 days.

Von der Ohe agrees it's a huge and expensive undertaking to pull all the elements together, but it's critical to competing on a global level.

And we can't wait for demand to drive development, as we have in the past, he said.

"If you build the infrastructure the business will come. That's what's happened in other parts of the world. Dubai has become a busy world class duty free port because it built the facilities and the demand followed."

Asian shippers already are using the Panama and Suez Canals to get goods to North America rather than the jammed up ports on the west coast of U.S.

And because Prince Rupert is 36 hours closer that any other North American port, there's a tremendous opportunity for Edmonton to be a key part of the chain, said Brian McCready, Alberta vice-president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. (CME).

Governments dragging their feet in bringing our highways up to snuff has hurt our manufacturing sector, he said.

"Exporting is the lifeblood of manufacturing in Edmonton, and we need seamless, highly efficient transportation corridors robust enough to stand up to the high traffic."

"How we get the goods around Edmonton is also important, and we've moved too slowly in the past."

McCready agrees a port in Edmonton would speed up the whole export and import process, and provide better access to China, Chicago and the rest of the U.S.

Edmonton Airports recently proposed a "Port Alberta" on its lands at the international that would pull together air, road and rail to ship through Prince Rupert and Vancouver.

But CN already has a new intermodal yard in the west end, and CP plans to develop one south of the city to replace its 99th Street facility.

John Vickerman, a principle with U.S. ports consultants TranSystems Corp., said Canada is well-positioned to compete with U.S. railways and ports to move goods quickly across the continent.

If the federal government put money into fixing transportation choke points, more intermodal traffic could move across the continent from the new container ports at Prince Rupert and Canso Strait, N.S., he said.

U.S. shipping companies complain containers get stalled in a "two-day black hole" in Chicago waiting to be transferred from the western U.S. rail network to eastern lines.

"This is an emerging transcontinental network. The irresistible flow of Asian product is going to come at you from the West Coast or go around. It's going to go wherever it's going to be best served as distribution."

A study at the port of Tacoma in Washington showed that building inland transfer ports could relieve pressure at coastal facilities and speed the movement of containers. And ports in such places as Edmonton, Saskatoon or Regina could take the pressure off Vancouver, where high land prices make expanding dockside capacity very expensive.

Vickerman said CN and CP could be moving 10 times their current intermodal traffic by 2020 as the expected increase in the number of containers arriving in North America will exceed current capacity at U.S. ports by 200 per cent. And the success of a port at Kansas City, Missouri that serves overcrowded Long Beach, California proves it's a viable proposition.

© The Edmonton Journal 2006

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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 7, 2006, 6:32 PM
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YEG has a very very ambitious "port alberta" that ive seen which has a HUGE intermodal possibility, logistics centres, cargo pads, etc.

Edmonton is exceptionally well suited for a "chicago" of the north and PR will surely add to our presence as a dist. hub.
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  #3  
Old Posted Dec 7, 2006, 6:38 PM
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I can't see this not happening. Edmonton will have a hugely diverse economy in 20 years (roughly), which is good, because I don't want to rely on oil for our economic well-being forever
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Old Posted Dec 7, 2006, 7:46 PM
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What we need is the revamp of Calgary Trail North through to downtown.

And all of this just as CN moves out of downtown.... hmmm..........
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  #5  
Old Posted Dec 7, 2006, 8:19 PM
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/\ And?
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Old Posted Dec 7, 2006, 8:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ExcaliburKid View Post
I can't see this not happening. Edmonton will have a hugely diverse economy in 20 years (roughly), which is good, because I don't want to rely on oil for our economic well-being forever
This transportation model doesn't mean Edmonton will only be focused on Oil. Actually it would help diversify our market more. I do see this working...but only if Edmonton establishes this correctly now. We have the transportation services in place with a few adjustments this can work.

I am writing Mandel and showing my support.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 6:08 AM
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Calgary is already assuming that role. I think we are quickly becoming a major distribution hub in north west North America, so Edmonton would have a pretty hard fight to become the "Chicago" of the north.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 6:29 AM
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Sorry guys, but Winnipeg has Edmonton and Calgary beat hands down in terms of transportation and distribution.

Winnipeg is still the major rail hub of Canada, with the second largest rail yard on the continient. Winnipeg International is also one of the very few 24hr/day airports in the nation and the third largest air cargo center in Canada. Winnipeg is also on the Mid-continiental Corridor conecting Winnipeg and Mexico City straight through. This highway has been designated by the three nations as the primary mid-continental route for truck transportaion between the NAFTA partners. Winnipeg has layed the ground work for being the primary transportion hub decades ago.

Although both Edmonton and Calgary could make an arguement as regional hubs.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 7:07 AM
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^But I believe Calgary's air cargo is growing quickly...as are the distribution centers. There is over 105 million sq ft of industrial space in Calgary now, and the lowest vacancy in the country. As well, some 40% of all shipments through Vancouver's port is redistributed through Calgary.

I think all three cities make a good case for growth.
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  #10  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 4:59 PM
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Edmontons advantage with the port of Prince Rupert over Calgary and the port of Vancouver, is Asian ships can shave 36 hours off their travel time by going to PR. Thats a big advantage IMO.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 5:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin_foster View Post
What we need is the revamp of Calgary Trail North through to downtown.

And all of this just as CN moves out of downtown.... hmmm..........
CN moving out of downtwon is exactly to take ADVANTAGE of this new line. With the Calder Yards and their new intermodal in 184th, why are they downtown?
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 5:51 PM
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Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
Calgary is already assuming that role. I think we are quickly becoming a major distribution hub in north west North America, so Edmonton would have a pretty hard fight to become the "Chicago" of the north.
While one could argue the "Chicago" title, I take exception to the statement that Edmonton couldn't handle more cargo, or even more than Calgary. Calgary has a great distribution network, but with YPR online, and with access to BOTH ports on the CN mainline, Edmonton is poised to do great things - that is if it gets off its ass and does something.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 5:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Edmonchuck View Post
CN moving out of downtwon is exactly to take ADVANTAGE of this new line. With the Calder Yards and their new intermodal in 184th, why are they downtown?
Yeah that's what I was getting at... their move out of downtown is perfect timing..
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 5:56 PM
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methinks it was planned awhile back...now they have the excuse. Combined with the Greyhound terminal's move, I think one can see why the location was picked. Right next to the Calder yards, on the Yellowhead (CN is really focusing E/W), and Greyhound gives ground logistics support (GH is mainoy cargo driven now for revenue)
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Change is impossible if the impediments to it remain in positions of power. Some people need to retire, and in Edmonton speak, that means they will die in their office.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 6:04 PM
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I think Edmonton is going to really benefit (more so then Calgary or Winnipeg, although they will continue to grow as well) from the opening up of the north. I think most people underestimate just how vast the far north is and how many resources are going to be mined from them over the next 200 years...


Claeren.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 7:00 PM
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CN moving out of downtwon is exactly to take ADVANTAGE of this new line. With the Calder Yards and their new intermodal in 184th, why are they downtown?
Not sure these should be directly related. Otherwise, what's CN thinking by having office space @ PVM in Montreal?
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 9:16 PM
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HQ office versus non-HQ.....that's my guess.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 9:49 PM
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HQ office versus non-HQ.....that's my guess.

Just 'cause the jobs aren't HQ jobs, doesn't mean they have to be on the factory floor.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 10:20 PM
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^ for some reason, the office opening song is playing in my head.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 10:47 PM
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^ for some reason, the office opening song is playing in my head.
8 days over due, none the less
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