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Feb 6, 2012 1:12 PM

Port of Tucson getting a big expansion

TUCSON - The Port of Tucson is now undergoing a big expansion, which could mean big things for our local economy.

Forty-thousand feet of new rail, and 20,000 feet of new track - that's what rolled into the Port of Tucson this weekend.

"Now we can establish these big trains from the Port of Tucson to Long Beach, or other port destinations," says Matt Levin, VP of Operations at the port of Tucson.

It's the second phase of expansion for the Port of Tucson, but it's the first step in attracting international business: growing the port and putting railroaders back to work.

"I think it's going to be a great thing for Tucson," Levin said. "Tucson has always been a great location or hub if you will for shipping, but now we're going to go ahead and invest in the future - have Tucson be, that inland port that it should be."

The Port of Tucson handles domestic loads traveling west from Chicago, but the $11 million being spent on infrastructure will expand the port to 10 times its current size, making it more global.

A contract with Union Pacific will allow the Port of Tucson to ship to sea ports in Texas and Southern California. Plus, every box car that travels these rails takes four trucks off the highway.

"It's great for the environment, less diesel used - taking trucks off the highway, congestion, it's a great thing," said Port of Tucson owner Alan Levin.

The Port of Tucson has been here for a little more than 7 years. It has a 15-year contract with Union Pacific, and the expansion project should be complete in 4 to 6 months.

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