Savage Railport in Pocatello will give farmers direct access to new, lucrative markets
POCATELLO — Several of those who spoke at Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting event for the Savage intermodal railway terminal evoked the 1989 Kevin Costner classic, ‘Field of Dreams.’
“Build it and they will come,” they said quoting the film’s famous line when speaking about the development of the Savage Railport — Southern Idaho and the agriculture businesses who are already coming.
An intermodal rail terminal is one that links multiple modes of transportation, including trucks and trains, to move local goods and freight across great distances. The terminal will allow Idaho farmers direct access to other markets, including at seaports in Tacoma, Washington.
One of the speakers who echoed those words was Gov. Brad Little, who believes the Savage intermodal railway will make farming in “isolated” Idaho more profitable, and more sustainable. As governor, Little has had discussions with the agriculture community about truck shortages, and other difficulties in dealing with cross-country as well as international transportation.
“This is one of the big steps in getting that resolved,” Little said. “What it does: it moves our farm families from Idaho closer to the ultimate consumer efficiently and safely.”
“Pocatello has such a great history with the railroad,” Little added. “It’s such a huge part of the history and the culture of this community, and this is such a great opportunity to take that culture and that history and move it into the 21st century.”
Savage, a Utah-based global supply chain company, has leased a 27-acre plot of land from Union Pacific Railroad. And while the terminal is operational, Savage expects it to expand, filling the entire 27 acres.
With hundreds of containers, both loaded and ready to be shipped and empty prepared for loading, already staged at the site, local businesses have already seen a benefit and more are expected to come.
Mayor Brian Blad also spoke at the ceremony, citing, among other things, the improved carbon footprint in the region, not to mention the decrease in truck and trailer traffic that will come with businesses choosing rail transportation over highway.
“This will absolutely change the way industry does business in our region, there’s no question,” Blad said.
Union Pacific spokesman Nathan Anderson concurred, saying the new railway terminal will provide many financial benefits, as it allows shippers in the area — primarily farmers — to identify and reach new lucrative markets.
One of the shippers in the area already reaping the benefits of the terminal is the Driscoll conglomerate.
“I would have to say that, for the Driscoll family and the Driscoll businesses, this is really an answer to a prayer,” Driscoll Management CEO Dirk Driscoll. “We are excited, and we’re grateful for what is taking place.”
Like most farming and agricultural businesses in the area, Driscoll businesses have, until now, been forced to use the intermodal rail yard in Salt Lake City — meaning they have had to pay for trucking to send 80 containers per week 200 miles. Now those containers can be brought straight from their local businesses to the Savage yard in Pocatello.
Particularly proud of Savage’s move into southeast Idaho is the company’s CFO, Pocatello-raised Jeff Roberts.
“I’ve lived all over the country, and now I’ve ended up in Salt Lake, with Savage,” Roberts told EastIdahoNews.com. “To see our company have a positive impact on where I grew up, it’s one of those really proud moments.”
While immediate employment has been filled by Savage employees from Utah, Roberts is hopeful that this railyard, and impact it has on the region, will create hundreds, perhaps thousands of jobs in the not-so-distant future.
Roberts continued, calling this development a “coming together of two great organizations,” in Savage and the state of Idaho.
“I’ve always felt like our company is a little bit of a hidden jewel,” he said. “And Idaho, which has always been, from my perspective, and under-appreciated state, coming together (with Savage), it means a tremendous amount to me.”
“Thank you for building it,” Driscoll said. “They are coming, and we are coming.”