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Opinion: Questions about the Utah Inland Port

Please provide the residents of the Salt Lake Valley with the information we have been seeking for the last 2 1⁄2 years, including projected impacts to human health, traffic, noise and the environment

Containers are stacked at the Port of Long Beach.
Containers are stacked at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. While congestion at the state’s ports have slowed deliveries of imports, it’s also made it harder for farmers to export crops to markets in Asia.
Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

I read with interest Jack Hedge’s guest commentary in the Oct. 28 Deseret News. Hedge, director of the Utah Inland Port Authority, suggested that the Utah Inland Port could help solve some of the nation’s supply chain issues. I was hoping for more detail than has previously been supplied by the port authority in their public discussions.

If only things were as simple as he makes them out to be. The logjam at California ports isn’t the result of a lack of places to send goods or the means to transport them. It’s a labor shortage issue.

Sure, it makes sense to bring goods that are destined for Utah here and send out our exports. But the Utah Inland Port is being promoted as the “Crossroads of the West” and an international customs port. Why would a Southern California port send goods destined for the eastern U.S. through Salt Lake City when Arizona ports provide a more direct route?

What will become of the empty shipping containers? We have far more imports than exports. Train engines, and also the switcher engines required to upload goods at a transloading facility, are both major polluters. More trucks will be required once they get here, three per shipping container according to the author. That’s a lot more traffic.

He’s right that cleaner fuels and electric trucks are in development, but it will take decades for all trucks and trains to be green. Are we to hold our breath in the meantime? Please provide the residents of the Salt Lake Valley with the information we have been seeking for the last 212 years, including projected impacts to human health, traffic, noise and the environment. Your authority would not be possible without taxpayer funding. You owe us that much.

Katie Pappas

Salt Lake City