February 8, 2022 (Merced, Calif.)—The Merced County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with Patriot Rail today to establish a rail district at Castle Commerce Center, making the site a focal point for the movement of freight by rail and future economic development.
The rail district, located near the southeastern corner of Castle, will enhance the ability of agricultural producers, manufacturers and other enterprises from throughout the San Joaquin Valley to ship and receive products via the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad mainline, which runs adjacent to the site. A rail spur from the BNSF lines currently connects to Castle, and Patriot Rail will soon develop additional infrastructure to facilitate enhanced rail freight service from the location.
The expansion of rail service in the new district is mutually beneficial for producers, Patriot Rail, and Merced County alike. The new district will allow businesses from Merced County and the surrounding region to further expand their operations by quickly and efficiently receiving and shipping more freight by rail – the most environmentally sensitive and sustainable way to move goods over land.
As part of the agreement, Patriot Rail will lease approximately 6,500 feet of track and related property. The lease term is for 20 years, with potential renewals subject to mutual agreement between Merced County and Patriot Rail. Patriot Rail will maintain the track and anticipates making an initial investment of $1.2 million to increase rail capacity and fluidity of shippers in the Castle rail district.
“This agreement is the culmination of years of market analysis and strategic planning,” said Chairman Lloyd Pareira of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. “Coupled with the autonomous vehicle testing happening at Castle, this is an exciting time for Merced County. We’re on the front-end of additional job creation and economic development.”
“Castle Commerce Center has enormous potential and is quickly becoming a site of regional, national and international significance,” said District 3 Supervisor Daron McDaniel, whose district includes Castle. “Patriot is a major part of our vision for Castle, and we’re looking forward to working with the partners they bring to help expand this growth and spur future job creation.”
“Patriot Rail is pleased to advance and help drive Merced County’s vision of economic growth,” said John E. Fenton, Patriot Rail CEO. “We are committed to providing service and safety excellence as a premier rail solutions provider, and to partnering with Merced County customers to ensure exciting new competitive options for shipment by rail to build business and grow jobs.”
“We have partnered with Merced County since 2017 to increase investment and trade development in Central California, and this public-private rail partnership is a major step forward,” said Gene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest container port. “This agreement will help make Central California a focal point to accelerate goods movement across our state and nation.”
“This unique partnership reflects the growing global demand for the agricultural products grown right here in the Valley,” said Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). “Together, Merced County and Patriot Rail are working to reduce supply chain shortages while proving Castle’s potential as an engine for economic productivity. It’s projects like these that will reduce inflation, create more jobs, and strengthen our regional economy.”
The agreement with Patriot Rail, a recognized leader in rail, rail services and safety, was executed through Patriot Rail subsidiary Foster Townsend Rail Logistics, LLC.
About Merced County
Merced County is located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, the agricultural hub of the state. The County’s abundant flat land and nearby sources of water support the local agricultural economy. The County geography spans from the coastal ranges to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and occupies approximately 1,935 square miles. Merced County has a culturally diverse population and is home to the University of California, Merced (UC). The UC’s 10th campus was opened in the fall of 2005 and incorporates state-of-the-art technologies and vast potential for scientific, environmental, and medical advancements. For more information about Merced County, please visit www.countyofmerced.com
About Patriot Rail
Patriot Rail operates 13 regional and freight short line railroads, a scenic rail excursion train, and rail- related services companies with operations in over 15 states. Service capabilities include railcar storage, railcar repair and maintenance, railway clean-up and transfer, tank car cleaning and environmental services, contract switching, transloading, engineering services, excursion railroads, real estate, and track access. For more information about Patriot Rail, please visit www.patriotrail.com