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California's first 'inland port' to be built in Kern County

Posted: 6:01 PM, Aug 09, 2022
Updated: 2022-08-10 20:27:41-04
Railroad Tracks in Mojave, Calif. (FILE)
Railroad Tracks in Mojave, Calif. (FILE)
Railroad Tracks in Mojave, Calif. (FILE)
Port of Los Angeles, Calif. (FILE)
Port of Los Angeles, Calif. (FILE)
Port of Los Angeles, Calif. (FILE)
Signs for Highway 58 to Bakersfield and Highway 14 to Bishop-Reno (FILE)
Signs for Highway 58 West to Tehachapi, Highway 58 to Bakersfield and Highway 14 North to Bishop (FILE)
Stuart Witt, Owner of Witt & Assoc., Former CEO of Mojave Airport
Zack Scrivner, Kern County Supervisor 2nd District

MOJAVE, Calif. (KERO) — Tire, air, rail, and space. These are the four options the Mojave Inland Port will have when it comes to moving products. This port will be the first of its kind in California and those who worked on the project say it will help meet the supply chain demand that is only getting worse.

Tuesday the Board of Supervisors approved the permit for the first inland port in California to be built in Kern County. With the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles continuously facing backlog problems Stuart Witt, who helped work on the project, says the issue will only get worse.

“The work's just starting, but the demand signal is not going away. Right now 20 million containers come through LA and Long Beach ports a year and it can’t handle that volume and it's growing to 34 million by the end of this decade.”

Witt says one year ago the state recognized a new solution was needed to try and get containers moving again. But it was Pioneer Partners that found Kern County for the inland port.

Stuart Witt, Owner of Witt & Assoc., Former CEO of Mojave Airport
Stuart Witt, Owner of Witt & Assoc. and former CEO of Mojave Airport

“If you can find a location that has an airport that can handle cargo airplanes, that has rail that’s under capacity that they can put more rail on it and that Trona line out of Mojave is used 20 percent so its ha 80 percent capacity remaining,” explained Witt.

The port will work in conjunction with Long Beach and LA ports by offloading large containers from ships and using shuttle trains through the Alameda corridor to Mojave to move goods.

"This is a Win-Win Across the Board"

Witt adds that while it may cause disruption for the area it will help long term.

“You are always going to find somebody that doesn’t like change, but this is change back to the future. This is how Mojave was founded. It's been a rail town. It’s a classic Southern Pacific railroad town.”

Witt and Zack Scrivner, the Kern County Board of Supervisor for Mojave said at the board meeting Tuesday this port will help Kern County economically.

Zack Scrivner, Kern County Supervisor 2nd District

“This is a win-win across the board from businesses to consumers and anyone else who relies on the timely delivery on even the most ordinary household goods that we all generally take for granted except when we are not able to get them,” said Scrivner.

“It solves an immediate problem for the near and long term, creates jobs and there’s no higher caller for as human and a resident of Kern County and the state of California – we need to start solving these problems locally that scratch the itch for the state and the entire nation,” added Witt.

The goal is for the port to break ground in 2023 and then be up and running in 2024.

Officials believe the project will help not only bring more jobs to Kern County but also bring over $500 million in yearly economic development for the state.

What is an 'Inland Port'?

Railroad Tracks in Mojave, Calif. (FILE)
Railroad Tracks in Mojave, Calif.

An inland port is defined as a port not located next to the ocean. They can be located next to a waterway such as a river or a canal.

An inland port is also used to refer to a "dry port" like the one planned for Mojave.

There are 12 major inland ports in America which include locations in St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Memphis.

Of the 12 major inland ports, the one in Kansas City is the furthest inland.

Chicago is considered to be the biggest port based on how much material that port moves per year.