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Planes, trains, now Boats for Ports. Edmonton.

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  • Planes, trains, now Boats for Ports. Edmonton.

    Tue, March 14, 2006

    Planes, trains, now boatsPort redevelopment adds another layer to Edmonton's status as an important gateway city
    By TIMOTHY LE RICHE, SUN MEDIA


    Redevelopment of the Port of Prince Rupert offers Edmonton a chance to enhance its status as a transportation hub, Mayor Stephen Mandel believes.

    That's why he wants to put together a committee to consider infrastucture issues.

    A $570-million overhaul of the northern B.C. port is under way, and because Prince Rupert is about 30 hours' shipping time closer to Asia than other west coast ports, people are taking notice.

    "We think there is incredible potential," said Mandel, after a one-day tour late last year in Prince Rupert.

    "Edmonton is the largest centre inland from Prince Rupert as well as a main distribution point for CN Rail. We're looking forward to participating in any way we can."

    Mandel wants to establish a committee - ad hoc initially - to come up with suggestions for the city to improve transportation infrastructure to take advantage of Prince Rupert or any other opportunities to boost the city as a hub.

    "We need to become proactive in this area," said Mandel. "It's a real key for the long-term future stability of our economy."

    The mayor wants the committee to include Edmonton Economic Development Corporation's transportation cluster group, CN officials and any other interest parties, even representatives of northern communities.

    "We need to ask the tough questions about what we need to do as a city," said Mandel.

    Backhaul provides one of the biggest opportunities that Mandel foresees with an upgraded and more active Prince Rupert port. Asian imports unloaded at major centres like Chicago or New York result in empty cares.

    "This is the huge upside, becoming the main backhaul loading point for grains, coal and other products," said Mandel. "It's the opportunity to ship stuff back to China, Japan and the Orient."

    Edmonton has already established itself as a central hub for transportation in western Canada, said Mandel.

    "The Yellowhead is by far the best route to go out to the West Coast," said the mayor. "CN is improving its lines out of Edmonton. It's going to be shipping more out of the north."

    In January, CN Rail bought three northern lines for $26 million, and said it will spend about $40 million to upgrade them.

    The acquisitions will give CN opportunity to service not only Alberta's oilsands, but also proposed natural gas pipelines in the north and other mineral production.

    In 2005, the three lines moved about 50,000 carloads, generating about $31 million revenue.

    In addition, Edmonton is home to Canadian National's network operations centre, Western operations centre as well as the rail line's northern Alberta Intermodal station.

    The Alberta capital has more than just CN and its Prince Rupert connection to boast about.

    Edmonton International Airport is the northern-most international airport in Canada and links strategically with major rail and highway connections.

    For the second year in a row, Edmonton International Airport safely landed a record-high passenger count in 2005, up 10.5% to 4.51 million from 4.08 million the previous year.

    It counted 594,803 flyers to and from the United States, an 11.9% gain over the previous year. And international routes included 143,696 passengers, up from 127,101 in the previous year, a 13.1% increase.

    Edmonton International hosts non-stop flights to nine U.S. hubs, including Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    On the road, Edmonton is serviced on the north-south line by Highway 2, part of the Canamex trade corridor, a proposal to eventually establish a four-lane highway directly from Edmonton, through the U.S. and into Mexico.

  • #2
    very very key for Edmonton's future establishment as not only a gateway to the north, but also to the East...far East


    Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

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    • #3
      This is an extremely important transportation issue that the city should jump on and make sure no opportunities are lost.
      LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

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      • #4
        No kidding. They need to be well in front of this, not like many other times where excessive debate and "what-iffing" themselves to death killed many an idea.
        President and CEO - Airshow.

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        • #5
          This is where a rail/air hub at YEG would make perfect sense, as seen elsewhere in the U.S.
          [email protected][email protected]: the 5th Horseman of the Apocalypse

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          • #6
            Originally posted by murman
            This is where a rail/air hub at YEG would make perfect sense, as seen elsewhere in the U.S.
            I can see a AMS style terminal building working great!

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            • #7
              If the massive amount of distribution centers that have been built in the last couple years around CN's intermodal yard on 184st are a sign to come.....

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              • #8
                Originally posted by LindseyT
                If the massive amount of distribution centers that have been built in the last couple years around CN's intermodal yard on 184st are a sign to come.....
                Very true. That area has just exploded lately.
                LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

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                • #9
                  I went online today to check out distances on road alone Edmonton is 3 hours closer than Vancouver and 2 hours closer than Calgary. Plus with new cargo agreements that affect YEG, and CN boosting it's capicity to the north things look good for Edmonton.

                  Reg Milley, CEO of Edmonton Airports, says the new Prince Rupert container port that's due to open in 2007 presents big opportunities for EA to boost cargo traffic. But he's also keen about working with the port to boost tourist travel.

                  "One of the things they want to get into from a tourism perspective is something called 'home porting.' That's where people would come in and board a ship in Prince Rupert, and then go up or down the coast," he says.

                  "One of the big things you need with home porting is really good air access, because people fly in from all over the world. But Prince Rupert's airport is not really conducive to handling large loads of traffic," he notes.

                  "It's actually located on an island, and once you fly in, you have to get a boat over to the mainland. So one of the things we talked about is the potential for Edmonton International to be their 'home porting' airport."

                  Milley's dream is to see tourists fly into Edmonton, travel by train through the Rockies and on to Prince Rupert, where they'd jump a cruise ship, before making the return trek home. And why not? This could be a winner, not only for Edmonton but for Prince Rupert.

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                  • #10
                    The city should develop a cohesive, long-term transportation strategy that includes Ft Mac, Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Saskatoon, Kamloops, and the new port in PR (oops, almost forgot Athabasca). Develop plans now for a regional fast-link passenger and cargo train service and present it as a long term plan to potential investors. Our city's poisition will be much stronger if it becomes the true hub for all these places I named. The city will then be seen as a place that serves in some capacity closer to 2 mil people with another million + within easy reach (Calgary). This vision is something that all of these communities will get on board with.

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                    • #11
                      they already are...
                      President and CEO - Airshow.

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                      • #12
                        could you elaborate? any specifics that you know that the rest of us (or just me) don't?

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                        • #13
                          The whole HSR debate and the train to Ft. Mac has spawned focus groups that are looking at things similar to what is talked about earlier.

                          Twinning highways, growing northern communities, etc. is making Edmonton and the outlying communities like Athabasca, GP, et al look at the best options. So far, just discussions as far as I know.
                          President and CEO - Airshow.

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                          • #14
                            Prince Rupert to me is one of the last cities with true Boomtown potential. I can see it eventually becoming a rival to Vancouver given the right set of circumstances, and I hope Edmonton is smart enough to make a deep connection now with the city.

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                            • #15
                              ^ Churchill, Iqualuit, Yellowknife, and Tuktoyaktuk all have boomtown potential.
                              Edmonton first, everything else second.

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