Aiding Redevelopment & Job Creation
Quonset Business Park — North Kingstown, RI
Access to the NEC for freight rail customers supports job creation and new business attraction at Quonset Business Park, a 3,207 acre industrial park in Rhode Island with 175 tenants and 9,500 jobs. Over a dozen companies , including local major employers BB&S Lumber, Toray Plastics, and North Atlantic Distribution, rely on daily freight rail access to ship and receive goods on the NEC. In 2013, over 5,000 railcars were processed at the park.
BB&S Lumber brings in over 700 railcars of lumber from the southeastern United States each year. The firm’s production facility at Quonset has the capacity to receive up to 1 million boards of lumber each year.
Toray Plastics relies on shipments of plastic resin raw materials, via rail from Houston, to manufacture plastic packing, foams, and industrial application goods. Toray operates twenty-four hours a day and employs 600 people. Any disruption in their supply of materials via rail would impede the company’s ability to operate at Quonset; it would not be economical to bring in raw materials via truck.
Quonset is an intermodal hub, with easy access to I-95, as well as its own airport and the Port of Davisville located within the park. The Port of Davisville is one of the top ten ports in the country for automobile imports, processing more than 200,000 vehicles each year. One of the park’s largest employers, North Atlantic Distribution, is a vehicle processor that is dependent upon the import of vehicles. Automobiles imported at Quonset can reach eastern Canada more quickly via rail than those imported at ports in Canada, and Davisville hopes that by marketing the time savings presented by rail service to automobile manufacturers that they can continue to grow their automobile import business. While the majority of the park’s automobile shipments come in on an oceangoing vessel and leave the park via truck, automobiles manufactured in the Midwest bound for locations in New England are also processed at Quonset and arrive via rail.
The NEC forms the western edge of the park and significant public investments have been made to improve freight rail access to the NEC and intermodal goods movement. The State of Rhode Island created dedicated sections of a third track along Amtrak’s northeast corridor to allow freight rail to operate alongside Amtrak’s passenger service. As a part of this project, the clearance on the rail line was increased to allow automobile carriers with stacked vehicles access to the park. In addition, a $22.3 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funded port infrastructure and a mobile harbor crane that moves goods directly from ship to railcar and, as a result, the port has seen a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in ship calls that require a crane. The park, with 15 miles of track and numerous sidings connecting to the NEC, also continually reinvests to maintain and improve their NEC connection.
Quonset Business Park has 350 acres of developable land remaining and is currently about two-thirds leased. Businesses in the park that rely on freight rail are growing and Quonset is in the process of attracting new companies – from heavy manufacturers to fishing companies – that require access to the NEC. Maintaining and increasing access to the NEC is an important component of growing jobs at Quonset and in Rhode Island.
Over a dozen firms rely on daily freight rail access via the NEC at Rhode Island’s Quonset Business Park. Photo courtesy of Quonset Development Corporation.