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NEW RAILROAD: How the Port of Inola is rethinking shipping

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Posted at 4:40 PM, Apr 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-12 11:16:21-04

INOLA, Okla. — The Port of Inola just debuted its newest feature aimed at rethinking its shipping connections.

The 4.4-mile Verdigris Southern Railroad transported its first shipment of paper products to Sodifel's Port of Inola facility Wednesday. The mere existence of the railroad, Tulsa Ports argues, opens the door for a new era in Rogers County.

"It's built for the future of this location," Tulsa Ports Executive Director David Yarbrough said. "We want to attract other manufacturers to the Tulsa area, and we are on the radar of a lot of this mega companies that are looking to locate."

Yarbrough adds while the much larger Port of Catoosa only has plots of 40 acres for new development, the five-year-old Port of Inola has sections up to 1,500 acres.

"We are confident that within a few years, this location will employ thousands of Oklahomans with good-paying manufacturing jobs," Yarbrough added.

Rogers County Commissioner Ron Burrows helped seal the deal for the rail via public grants and private investments shortly after the port was acquired in 2019.

"Because there was already a rail line here, it wasn't just cut in and new construction. It was just rebuilding an infrastructure that was already here," Burrows said.

The price tag for the Verdigris Southern Railroad was just under $20 million, according to Tulsa Ports.

Union Pacific runs the track, and more importantly is here to stay, according to Burrows and Yarbrough.

"When you look at investments, that investment is what will grow the local economy," Burrows said.

"It is a harbinger of what's to come and it's an indication to how committed we are as a state and as a region to attracting those industries and companies to our area," Yarbrough added.

While the rail is the biggest transportation investment yet for the port, Yarbrough said a wastewater facility is also in the works and could be a reality in the coming years.

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