Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Professor calls newest Queensgate Terminals report 'flawed'

Rumors have been circulating that Queensgate Terminals is engaging in renewed conversations about operating a multi-modal transportation facility at the former Hilltop Basic Resources property at in Lower Price Hill.

Court-ordered lease negotiations between the City and Queensgate Terminals for the 30-acre property ended nearly two years ago, and an August 2007 City Council motion reinforced the City's desire to look into the feasibility of developing it into a public park or housing.

Residents and stakeholders in Lower Price Hill, East Price Hill, West Price Hill, Sedamsville and Riverside have long opposed the facility, rejecting the idea that the western riverfront historically has been Cincinnati "working riverfront" and preferring to see the land kept as green space.

New report 'flawed'

Just last month, the Economics Center for Education and Research at the University of Cincinnati College of Business released a report entitled Market Demand for and Impacts of Queensgate Terminals, which it prepared for the company.

But Dr. Howard Stafford, professor of geography at UC, says in an analysis provided to council that the report is seriously flawed.

"Most of the report is very general and not directly related to the Queensgate Terminals project," he says.

He also says that the projected benefits are based solely on unsupported information provided by Queensgate Terminals.

"There is no attempt by the UC authors to assess if these are reasonable projections of volume of containers moved or jobs created," Stafford says. "The economic benefit numbers given are not realistic. The costs to the community are glossed over."

In assessing the environmental impacts, the report relies on the principle that containers carry more than trucks.

However, Stafford points out that these containers would be transferred to trucks, increasing local truck traffic.

"There are no data in the report that support positive environmental impacts for the area," he says.

Finally, Stafford says that the report presents the lack of barge-to-container ports along the Ohio River as a missed opportunity.

"The obvious counter question is not addressed in the report: Why have exisiting barge-rail-highway companies in the area not seized the opportunity if such exists?" he says. "At a totally independent January 8, 2009 meeting of the River Advisory Council...Ed Ide of CGB, Todd Vollet of RBT/RBB, Steve Davis of CSX, and Martha Kelly of City Transportation seemed to be in agreement that there is no good prospect for any significant volume of local container on barge traffic."

Besides, the Queensgate Terminal facility would not really be Cincinnati's port anyway, Stafford says.

"Rather, it would be captive of the Queensgate Terminals-Jeffersonville-Rail America combine," he says. "Queensgate Terminals is to link exclusively with the company's proposed logistics center in Jeffersonville, Ohio. Cincinnati is only a small cog in their problematic upstate dream."

What else?

In December 2007, city manager Milton Dohoney Jr. issued a report recommending that the City change the zoning of the site to RF-C Riverfront Commercial, which could lead to the negotiation of a lease.

In the report, Dohoney cited uncertainty about the true developable acreage of the site due to the upcoming Waldvogel Viaduct replacement, possible high-speed passenger rail to Chicago via Indianapolis, and the Ohio River waterline.

The entire property also is located in a 100-year flood plain and is surrounded by light and heavy industrial uses, he said.

However, failure to negotiate a lease with Queensgate Terminals could lead to damages and legal fees of $1 million or more, and questions remain about how the City will pay to maintain the property.

A report from Dohoney is due before council by April 8.

Photo credit: "Barge" by , courtesy of Flickr.

Previous reading on BC:
River West Working Group: Queensgate Terminals report 'unacceptable' (4/7/08)
Dohoney reports in Queensgate site options (12/26/07)
No contact between City, Queensgate since June (12/19/07)
Bortz offers newest motion to stop Queensgate Terminals (8/9/07)
City against riverside intermodal terminal, faces legal penalties (6/15/07)


Travis Estell said...

I hope these problems get solved soon. It looks like a great opportunity for that area, so let's find out for sure and get moving if so.

Anonymous said...

I heard that they will transfer from barge directly to trains, with zero truck traffic. The truck terminal is in Columbus.
Is that true?

Anonymous said...

funny how people who don't live in "that area" think it is a great oppurtunity while all the people who do live in "that area" are against it. I assure you this would be detrimental to all the work that has been done to move "that area" into the 21st century. LPH EPH Sedamsville have real potential to be actual neighborhoods, not just dumping grounds for something you'd hate to have in your backyard.

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