Plan to link Detroit to Halifax by rail in anticipation of future mega cargo ships

From Crain Detroit Business:

A new nonprofit wants to transform Detroit’s logistics assets into an inland port linked by rail to the deepwater facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to take advantage of the newest generation of massive cargo ships.

Organizers of the Great Lakes Global Freight Gateway say Halifax is one of just two ports on the East Coast — the other is Newport, Va. — that can handle the “Ultra Post-Panamax” container ships that will ply the seas by 2014.

The group believes it can convince logistics providers, maritime operators and manufacturers that it’s cheaper and faster to ship goods to the Midwest through the Detroit-Halifax link.

“In the end, they all want the lowest price,” said Michael Belzer, an economics professor at Wayne State University and CEO of Great Lakes Global Freight Gateway. “Detroit has never sold itself as an inland port before. It has all the assets.”

Goods would arrive by mega-freighter in Halifax and then be shipped the 1,300 miles to Detroit via Canadian National Railway Co. trains (and CN’s tunnel in Port Huron). From there, they would be offloaded for truck shipping locally and to the Midwest.

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