Wyoming Rail, Roads Give State Transportation Strength

Shipping by rail is gaining momentum in Wyoming, with Class I and short-line carriers able to haul heavy commodities.

By
Michaela Jackson
On Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 11:23

Cliff Root knows how to move the goods. Root is CEO of two Wyoming-based transportation companies: Bighorn Divide & Wyoming Railroad Inc. in Shoshoni, and Bonneville Transloaders Inc. trucking company in Riverton. He is also the former director of the Wyoming Business Council.

Root says Wyoming has the potential to become a national leader for moving freight by rail, with two of North America's largest carriers – Union Pacific and BNSF – already having a major presence in the state.

“Both of them have more than 800 miles of track in Wyoming, plus shortline carriers like Bighorn Divide & Wyoming Railroad as well as Watco also contribute largely to the state's overall economy,” Root says.

Shortline carriers serve mining-based and heavy materials producers at plants throughout Wyoming, then haul their loaded railcars to connecting Union Pacific or BNSF tracks for transport to markerts throughout the Mountain States, the Southwest and beyond.

“A push began about eight years ago to invest dollars and develop business parks that are accessible to Class I railroads in cities such as Casper, Cheyenne, Evanston, Laramie and Upton,” Root says. “The rail system is an excellent way to ship heavy bulk commodities such as soda ash, sulfur, sulfuric acid, coal, lime, cement, fertilizer and even crude oil.”

As a result, Wyoming today has a number of major industrial parks with rail service. Such facilities include the Casper Logistics Hub, (Casper) Cheyenne Business Parkway, (Cheyenne) North Range Business Park (Cheyenne), Laramie River Business Park (Laramie) and Upton Regional Industrial Park (Upton).

“Transportation logistics are key factors in the success of business parks, with many companies shipping heavy commodities by trucks and increasingly by rail,” Root says. “Wyoming doesn't have a Mississippi River to haul commodities by barge, so further developing the railroad industry in this state is a wise move.”

“Transportation logistics are key factors in the success of business parks, with many of them shipping heavy commodities by trucks and increasingly by rail,” Root says. “Wyoming doesn't have a Mississippi River to haul commodities by barge, so further developing the railroad industry in this state is a wise move.”

Rolling Down the Highway

 

While the railroad industry in Wyoming is becoming more robust, the state has other strong transportation assets, such as roadways and airports, that provide a distribution edge.

Interstate 25 is a key north/south roadway along the Rocky Mountain Front Range, while I-80 crosses the state west to Salt Lake City and east to major Midwest metropolitan areas, and I-90 in northern Wyoming provides a link to the Northwest and Upper Midwest markets. In all, there are 913 miles of interstate highway in Wyoming.

Air to There

For air travel, Casper, Cheyenne, Cody and Jackson Hole have modern convenient airports, and there are more than 30 other general aviation flight facilities located throughout the state. A total of 10 airports offer commercial service. Meanwhile, Denver International Airport is only 90 minutes to two hours from Wyoming's major population centers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michaela Jackson has worked as a reporter for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as a freelance writer for a variety of regional and national magazines.