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The Utah Inland Port – priority one, move truck traffic to rail

May 12, 2022, 11:46 AM
inland port salt lake city...
Location of the Utah Inland Port Authority. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)
(Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The new six-member board of the Utah Inland Port Authority met this week, in person, for the first time in two years and after changes made to the Board by Utah lawmakers.

And heavy on their minds was the continuing issue of the supply chain, something that many Americans before the pandemic knew little to nothing about.

“Everything we have. Everything we do. The clothes you’re wearing, the parts in your car, come through the supply chain,” said the Utah Inland Port Executive Director, Jack Hedge on KSL at Night

“Nobody cared about the supply chain until we didn’t have toilet paper on our shelves. Now everybody cares about the supply chain,” he said.

“So, the Inland Port is looking at what are the needs of the supply chain today, and what are the needs of the supply chain into the future? And whether we make those goods here in the United States or we import them, how do we get those goods onto our shelves so we can keep our economy moving.

“We have a chance to do it better, smarter, faster, more equitably than it’s ever been done before.”

Example for the rest of the world

Hedge said he came to the Utah Inland Port Authority from the Port of Los Angeles where he was the director of cargo and industrial real estate. He said that he took this job because he wasn’t aware of another opportunity where he could really look at the future needs of the supply chain “and really be visionary and strategic and forward thinking about how do we really do this better.”

“Every other port, every other logistics hub around the nation, has these legacy issues around it. We’ve got an opportunity to do something here that becomes an example for the rest of the world.”

40% of U.S. GDP flows through Utah

So how does the Utah Inland Port affect you?

“People don’t know this,” Hedge said, “but because we are directly connected by road and rail to the three main west coast gateways and the major manufacturing and distribution centers of the midwest, all of those goods and cargo move not just to Utah, but through Utah.

“Something like 40% of the nation’s GDP flows through Utah on any given day. That means there are a lot of trucks on our freeways adding to our congestion, adding to our air pollution.”

So, a major focus of the Utah Inland Port will be to move some of that truck traffic to rail. The goal … to help with congestion and air quality.

“Every ton of freight we transfer from truck to rail reduces air emissions by 75%.”

Changes made by lawmakers to the Utah Inland Port Authority?

The Deseret News reported that passage of HB443 during the 2022 Utah Legislative Session, awarded a 25-year-contract to the Salt Lake City government. In exchange, Utah’s capital city gave up voting membership on the Board.

Nevertheless, Salt Lake City Council Member Victoria Petro-Eschler will serve as the city’s representative on the port authority board.

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The Utah Inland Port – priority one, move truck traffic to rail