Queensgate Terminals project heats up

The $26 million Queensgate Terminals project has become a focus of discussion recently. Drawing support from Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, the US Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, Ohio Departments of Development and Transportation and the Western Economic Council; while at the same time eliciting sharp criticism from several nearby community councils, residents, Cincinnati Christian University and the developers of Incline Square located in East Price Hill.

The project being proposed is an intermodal shipping facility located along Cincinnati’s western riverfront. The prominent location has long been used for industrial purposes, the most recent being a concrete crushing facility. The site sits at the edges of both the Queensgate and Lower Price Hill neighborhoods, but is also prominently seen from East Price Hill.

Executive Director of The Hillside Trust, Eric Russo, is concerned that noise and light pollution from a 24 hour facility such as this would be damaging to the extraordinary views from the west side of Cincinnati. “The Hillside Trust believes this site is better suited for park and recreational use like the hike and bike trail concept outlined in the Michael Gallis report to the Metropolitan Growth Alliance in 1999,” says Russo.

The proposal calls for a 31-acre transfer facility that would allow trains to unload cargo from rail to barge. The demand for such a facility lies within the container shipment process that allows for cargo like grain to be moved in bulk and then transferred into containers for long-distance shipping that can eventually be delivered directly to the site with ease.

Nearby resident and retired University of Cincinnati Geography professor, Howard Stafford, has issues with the economic benefits of such a project that he believes will hinder the renaissance that is poised to happen on Cincinnati’s west side. “The current projections have no basis or ground of reality that have been independently vetted,” states Stafford.

The economics of cargo shipment by water are attractive as it is five times cheaper than by freight truck and three times cheaper than rail. The shipment process can take a bit longer time-wise, but does present significant cost savings and an attractive“back-haul” system as these containers are working their way back to China in many instances empty. The attractiveness of such a process has been seen in the triple digit increases over the past ten years in bulk to container shipments.

This particular facility will also boast several green components that will help make the redevelopment an eco-friendly industrial design. Wind turbines will take advantage of rising heat and prevailing winds at the site, and adjustable solar panels will capture sunlight and reflected light off of the nearby water. The administrative building is presently designed to include a green roof.

The redevelopment plan also preserves space for the proposed extension of the Ohio River Trail. In the design 2,300 linear feet, enough to cross the extent of the property is preserved at roughly 60 feet in width. These modifications were made to the original plan at the urging of several City Council members and community leaders.

Queensgate Terminals developer, David Martin, describes the importance of gaining community support and buy-in as being critical. “The project has to be user-friendly and something that people can use and learn from. It’s a community project and is something that will be a city port owned by the City of Cincinnati. This is not a private port operation and tariff revenues will go back to the City to help fund west side redevelopment projects.”

Martin goes on to say that the facility will be very quiet using modern electrically-powered cranes to transfer cargo. “These facilities have been designed to operate within European neighborhoods. A clankety-clank project would be a failure of a project that wouldn’t be respectful to the community.”

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: David Martin, developer, Queensgate Terminals
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