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BNSF Railway Co. yesterday unveiled a new site certification program aimed at identifying optimal rail-served sites for customer development along the Class I's network.To develop the program, BNSF drafted a list of candidates and conducted in-depth reviews of 10 economic development criteria to determine if the industrial sites meet the railroad's readiness standards. The standards are intended to minimize development risks customers may face, BNSF officials said in a press release."BNSF certification means customers will receive an inventory of industrial sites on BNSF's network that have received a rigorous review to confirm the site is shovel-ready for development," said Colby Tanner, assistant vice president, economic development.The railroad also announced that four locations — Shafter, Calif.; Newton, Kan.; Shelby, Mont.; and Temple, Texas — met and demonstrated BNSF's criteria for advanced readiness for industry growth for commercial development projects. The program allows the sites to use the "BNSF Site Certified" distinction. The Class I is marketing the sites on BNSF.com and will promote them to economic developers.Customers who build a rail-served facility on a BNSF Certified Site are expected to save six to nine months of construction time as a result of the site's advanced level of preparedness for development, BNSF officials said. To be considered a certified site, industrial sites agree to submit documents that allow BNSF to determine the level of commitment by the owner and the community to develop a high-quality industry park or site that is supported by public-private collaboration and investment, they said.Among the criteria determined to be critical for a commercial development project include property size and boundaries, confirmed availability of utilities, public services, highway access, proper zoning for industrial use and transparency of current land ownership.BNSF also will vet assessments on environmental issues, geotechnical reviews and endangered species considerations or cultural matters such as land with known archeological value.BNSF selected the following industrial sites as the railroad's first BNSF Certified Sites:• Paramount Logistics Park, located 150 miles north of the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, which is associated with Shafter Rail Terminal;• Kansas Logistics Park, located north of Wichita, Kan., which provides rail access to BNSF via the Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad;• Port of Northern Montana Multimodal Hub Center in Shelby, Mont., which offers direct access to BNSF; and• the Rail Park at Central Pointe, located 124 miles south of Fort Worth, Texas. The site has 10 miles of track switched by the Temple & Central Texas Railway, which connects directly to BNSF.
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