Davenport's city-owned transfer facility and rail spur development that will allow commodities to move from truck to train and vice versa is near completion.

Project manager Jim Benge said the $17 million project, of which the city is paying 20 percent, is six weeks from being finished on 25 acres in the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center, off Northwest Boulevard north of Interstate 80.

"This facility will attract other businesses and bring more industry out here," Benge said.

Crews were busy last week pouring hundreds of yards of concrete around a 13,000-square-foot warehouse that was built over the winter. Another crew was placing trees along a new road that leads from Hillandale Road to the transload facility. The new road intersects with Hillandale near the John T. Blong Tech Center.

A project several years in the making, work on the site began in April 2014 under the general contractor, Langman Construction of Rock Island. Benge said crews worked through the winter to erect the facility and lay 3.5 miles of new railroad track to the Central Pacific Railway line that parallels U.S. 61.

Two tracks wrap around the facility and one runs straight through it, with semi-trailer bays adjacent to the opening for the track. Benge said he is not sure how long wares might be stored at any one time in the facility but added that it's not intended for long-term storage.

The tracks near the facility are lined underneath to catch and hold any hazardous materials in case of a spill and prevent the materials from escaping into storm drains, Benge said. The facility was designed by Engineered Rail Solutions LLC of McHenry, Ill.

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The city has picked Savage Services Corp. of Schererville, Ind., to operate the facility. The Davenport City Council passed a motion at its May 13 meeting directing city staff to negotiate a contract with the company.

"We're very happy," Davenport Public Works Director Mike Clarke said of the choice of operator. "I think they will be a fantastic partner."

Clarke said the city is "putting feelers out" on who wants to use the facility, and he is confident it will draw a lot of train and truck traffic.

"We're perfectly positioned here," Clarke said. "We're on major interstate highways, major rail lines and the Mississippi River. And we're smack dab right in the middle of the country."

Eighty percent of the project is being paid for by federal and state grants, including a $7 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

"We've got a good project," Benge said. "It's something very novel for the city."

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