The Owensboro Riverport is moving forward with a rail expansion in the new year that will add space for automobile frame manufacturer Metalsa as it steps up production.
The $1.5 million rail loop project at the riverport is getting the majority of funding from a federal grant to improve air quality. That’s because Mexico-based Metalsa Structural Products is investing nearly $37 million in an expansion that will add 113 jobs at its Owensboro plant. That means a lot more auto frames will be produced and have to be shipped by either by truck or rail.
The federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant will reduce emissions because shipping by rail will eliminate the need to deliver Metalsa products in 5,000 trucks every year.
Owensboro Riverport CEO Brian Wright says about 60 percent of the new rail project will be dedicated to Metalsa.
“Overall, when we’re looking at optimizing various modes of transportation related to river, rail and road, this gives us a great deal more flexibility long-term to increase our rail volume through the port for additional businesses, as well.”
Wright said one reason Kentucky beat out the competition for the Metalsa project is the availability of good rail service.
“The riverport was able to design a specific load out area that’s within six miles of Metalsa’s operation that gave them the competitive edge for delivering frames via rail, compared to other states.”
The rail loop construction and the Metalsa expansion are both due to be completed in early 2019.