Produce project set for RidgePort development
By mary Baskerville For The Herald-News May 3, 2012 7:52AM
Updated: June 7, 2012 8:12AM
WILMINGTON — A fresh food express is headed to Wilmington.
The new RidgePort Logistics Center, under construction near Interstate 55 and Lorenzo Road, is embarking on a project with the BNSF that will create a direct path designed to bring the fruits and vegetables of the Central Valley of California to Chicago.
Speaking at Tuesday’s regular Wilmington City Council meeting, Jim Martell of RidgePort said he was in California last week talking to growers. Martell reported that they are excited about the idea. The new Wilmington site would cut three days off the time it now normally takes for the produce to reach the supermarket shelves in Chicago, he said.
Nationally, only 4 percent of food is shipped by rail, Martell said, but there is interest on the part of a lot of food-related businesses to look at ways to take advantage of rail.
“We are very excited to bring a new concept — the dedicated freezer/cooler train,” Martell said. “The railroad is really excited. ”
The Midwest will then export its eggs, cream, cheese and other dairy products as the cars make their way back to California, he said.
The BNSF has committed the freezer/refrigerated cars and RidgePort is designing a new building where the produce would be received and loaded on trucks to reach final destinations. Additionally, Martell said, companies packaging fresh fruits and vegetables for specialty uses like deli trays might locate near the facility because of the direct access to product.