Utah inland ports offer public risk for private gain
Salt Lake City has been fighting against an Inland Port in our neighborhood for 5 years. After 5 years of misusing public funds, steamrolling public input, and removing local representation, all the “port” has to show for it is some warehouses clogging up the northwest side of the city. Experts have explained in great detail why an Inland Port in Salt Lake City is not a good use of public funds, or a sound business investment.
Now, the Utah Inland Port Authority is expanding across the state, with a recently approved plan for Cedar City, and a proposal on the table for Tooele. Katie Pappas had an excellent op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune addressing issues with the Inland Ports.
“Like port development in Salt Lake City, Iron Springs depends on tax increment financing to get off the ground. This could mean up to $83 million going to Commerce Crossroads and Savage Services. Commerce Crossroads would also receive a $10 million loan for rail infrastructure from the Authority Infrastructure Bank. Public funding and public risk for private development.
Currently there are few exports and only 12 maritime shipping containers from Iron and Washington counties over an entire year, according to the project plan. Annual area imports of 1,512 containers, or 4.1 containers per day, still don’t justify even one transloading facility and creates a surplus of empty containers. The Iron Springs Plan leaves the door open to export just about anything, including coal and alfalfa. We just don’t know and questions to the UIPA board go unanswered,” Pappas writes.
The op-ed goes on, “Meanwhile, at its April 11 meeting, the Tooele County Council passed a resolution supporting the development of a port just south of I-80, even though there has been no feasibility study and little communication with residents. The area contains wetlands and there are no utilities in the immediate area. The Tooele port would be in the same nonattainment airshed as Salt Lake City and concerns with its development are almost identical to those of the Salt Lake port, including impacts to the Great Salt Lake and its ecosystem”
All of this comes during an alarming lull in West Coast port business.