Port San Antonio officials recently said the facility’s East Kelly Railport handled high volumes of cargo supporting the region’s energy, retail, manufacturing and construction sectors throughout fiscal year 2015, which ended Sept. 30. This marks solid period of activity for the former Kelly Air Force Base turned business/industrial park. Operations at the railpark, located adjacent to Union Pacific’s South San Antonio yard, served almost 10,000 railcars over the 12-month period. Sand used in hydraulic fracturing in the nearby Eagle Ford Shale area continued as the primary commodity transferred from railcars onto trucks, accounting for two-thirds of volumes. Other commodities included lumber and steel used by the construction industry; aggregates; canned goods; and railcars served by GBW, which operates a large maintenance and repair site on the southern end of the railport.
The 350-acre East Kelly Railport has direct access to Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway trains. It is centrally located with quick connections to major area highways, which has been a major draw to patrons. “Thanks to our strategic location and close collaboration with customers and partners, we continue to grow the range of industries we serve,” said Germán Rico, East Kelly Railport general manager, in a news release.
“It’s important to look at the long-term and prepare accordingly,” said Rico, who noted that in recent months Port San Antonio customers CIG Logistics and Watco Companies made investments totaling $10 million to add silos, make warehouse improvements and extend rail spurs to facilitate storage and transport of sand and other supplies used in oil and gas extraction. “We also want to ensure ever-greater diversity in the commodities that are handled,” added Rico. “There are growing opportunities as the home-building, road construction and manufacturing sectors in the region continue to pick up steam.”
Jonathan Green, CIG’s president and CEO, said the East Kelly Railport gives his company many options and resources. “East Kelly Railport gives us the flexibility to expand and quickly adapt to changing markets,” said Green in the release. “What’s more, the Port has been much more than a landlord—their team is a true partner in helping us promote our capabilities and grow our business.”
“America’s industries are increasingly turning to rail as a more efficient mode of transportation, especially over long hauls,” said Ryan Williams, Watco’s Vice President of sales and marketing, in the release. “Our investments in infrastructure at the Railport in recent years have created a strong centrally-located hub that can provide strategic support to any number of industries in the region on a project or long-term basis.”
Logistics service providers at East Kelly Railport processed 9,697 railcars in FY2015—consistent with volumes over the previous two fiscal years. Traffic during the last three years represents an almost four-fold growth in activity since the first full year of operations, FY2008, when 2,764 railcars were processed. Other Port tenants who handle rail cargo include Fiesta Warehousing and Distribution, which operates more than 300,000 square feet of rail- and truck-served space for storage and distribution of food and other consumer goods. About 150 acres remain for new built-to-suit facilities at East Kelly, including logistics and manufacturing options with direct rail access.
Port San Antonio is now working with the city of San Antonio to begin about $8 million in road improvements on Quintana Road, near the railport, in 2016. The new infrastructure, whose funding includes $6 million from the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, will widen the road and improve drainage—increasing overall safety at the railport and for the surrounding community. Based on the Southwest Side, Port San Antonio has become a prime contributor in the city for economic growth and new jobs.