Construction is set to begin Monday on a long-awaited rail-based industrial transloading facility in Des Moines, the project’s developer and owner-operator, Des Moines Industrial, announced today.

Ryan Cos. will begin work at the 31-acre site at 200 E. 15th St., with the facility expected to be operational by late this year.

The site has direct access to Iowa Interstate Railroad, Norfolk Southern and BNSF railroads, making it a premier rail-based transportation hub in Iowa, Des Moines Industrial said in its announcement. The company also cited the location's proximity to the key commercial trucking intersection of Interstate highways 35 and 80.

The Des Moines Transloading Facility Project is a partnership between Des Moines industrial (DSMI), the Des Moines Area MPO, the city of Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration. Business partners Paul Cownie and Gabe Claypool, both Iowa natives with over 35 combined years in the railroad logistics and real estate development industries, launched DSMI in 2019. .

“Our team brings decades of business development success in multiple industries and is enthusiastic to collaborate with the railroads’ marketing teams in conjunction with our own business development efforts,” Cownie said in a prepared statement. "We are even more enthusiastic to provide customers with the positive impacts of multi-railroad competition not recognized in any other third-party transloading facility in the state of Iowa.”

The facility will serve as a logistics park where bulk materials are transferred between semitrailers and trains, and vice versa. This will provide flexibility and reduced shipping costs to benefit area businesses and consumers with a potential economic impact of more than $10 million annually.

Plans include 15,000 linear feet of track infrastructure, 115,000 square feet of traditional warehouse space, 8 acres of exterior storage capabilities, future cold storage and additional off-site close proximity warehousing opportunities.

DSMI will be open to third-party clients and is also seeking warehouse tenants and customers focused on transloading inbound and outbound products in Central Iowa. DSMI will provide all necessary transloading equipment and services, fixed and mobile, as required by clients.

Brian Crowe, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, commented on the importance of the project, which has been on the Partnership’s priorities list for several years.  

"By providing multiple railroad and trucking options, the Des Moines Industrial Transloading Facility will be instrumental for Greater Des Moines' current and future business growth, particularly for manufacturing, logistics and distribution companies that need healthy supply chain connectivity," Crowe said in a prepared statement.

The project was born out of planning work by the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which first showed the feasibility for such a facility at that location. The Des Moines Area MPO also raised nearly $13 million in public funds for the project, including an $11.2 million Better Utilizing Infrastructure to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Big visions take years to realize, and we are proud of the MPO staff for nurturing this game-changing project for so long,” Joe Gatto, Des Moines City Council member and MPO chair, said in a prepared statement. “We would also like to thank all of our partners on this – we wouldn’t be here without public-private partnerships.”

More information about Des Moines Industrial and the transload facility can be found on the company’s website.

Business Record Insider: Read more about the co-owners of Des Moines Industrial and hurdles the project has faced in this Business Record article from February 2020.