Port of Nevada near Fernley ‘huge opportunity’ for area

The Port of Nevada alleviates shipping delays along Interstate 80 and allows more goods to flow into Northern Nevada from the Port of Oakland, says Justin Lichter, vice president of Industrial Realty Group of Los Angeles.

The Port of Nevada alleviates shipping delays along Interstate 80 and allows more goods to flow into Northern Nevada from the Port of Oakland, says Justin Lichter, vice president of Industrial Realty Group of Los Angeles.

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The developer of the Port of Nevada says the inland port east of Fernley not only alleviates routine shipping delays along Interstate 80 but also allows substantially more goods to flow into Northern Nevada from the Port of Oakland.

Justin Lichter, vice president of Industrial Realty Group of Los Angeles, told NNBW last week that the Port of Nevada accepted its first intermodal shipments in May from the Port of Oakland, the nation’s ninth-busiest seaport. The Port of Nevada lies between Fernley and Hazen and straddles Churchill and Lyon counties.

“Interstate 80 is not a smooth drive,” Lichter said. “There’s traffic in the Bay Area and Sacramento Valley, and there’s also the potential for road construction in the summer. Winters can be a nightmare with chain controls, snow and road closures. That brings a lot of time and uncertainty in transportation costs.

“Rail service takes truck traffic off the road and eliminates some of the challenges associated with traveling over Donner Pass in the winter or during road construction in the summer,” Lichter added. “It creates supply chain efficiencies, and it’s a lot more environmentally friendly to go on rail than by truck.”

Instead of 20-foot and 40-foot shipping containers being loaded onto trucks and hauled over the Sierra to Northern Nevada, they now can be loaded onto rail and offloaded directly at the Port of Nevada, Lichter said. In addition to being a more reliable transportation method, rail cars can accommodate a greater volume of freight since they don’t have to deal with over-the-road weight restrictions, Lichter added.

“Containers can get loaded to 60,000 pounds each, so for each rail car you can get two containers,” he said. “You can load heavier and get more product inside your container.”

The increased freight volume, lower transportation costs, and greater certainty in timely delivery — trains aren’t impacted by highway closures and continue operating during severe Sierra snow storms — could very well be the deciding factors that tip the scales in favor of companies selecting Northern Nevada versus competing markets such as Phoenix or Salt Lake City, Lichter noted.

IRG began developing the Port of Nevada about four years ago, Lichter said. The site was dual-served by both Union Pacific and BNSF from a switch off the main rail line, and Industrial Realty Group completed two substantial track expansions to improve the flow of shipping containers coming in and out of the Port of Nevada.

Containers arriving to Northern Nevada from the Port of Oakland were shipped from destinations throughout the globe. The Port of Oakland received about 70 percent of its total trade in 2023 from Asia, with another 15 percent coming from Europe. Once containers arrive in Nevada, they are placed on trucks and sent to businesses in Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and distribution and manufacturing facilities throughout the region.

The Port of Nevada has been exporting commodities such as the prized timothy hay grown by Fallon ranchers and minerals mined in the Silver State for several years, Lichter said. Containers loaded for export at the Port of Nevada travel to destinations throughout the world, he added.

Industrial Realty Group’s land position at the site is about 160 acres, Lichter said, and the Port of Nevada currently uses about 30 acres. IRG is developing a six-acre container storage yard, as well as a customs-bonded facility so containers can clear customs in Northern Nevada rather than at the Port of Oakland.

There is a big time savings by clearing customs in Northern Nevada versus Northern California, Lichter noted.

“Containers don’t have to wait at the Port of Oakland to clear customs, and that’s for both directions since we are doing imports and exports from the Port of Nevada,” he said.

There’s also the matter of demurrage, which is the length of time a container sits in a terminal. Shipping carriers offer customers a predetermined amount of time to use their containers, and any time that goods remain in a container above the contracted amount results in a surcharge to the customer.

The clock for demurrage starts when a container is offloaded either from a train or vessel and ends when it’s picked up by truck. Previously, demurrage began when containers were offloaded at the Port of Oakland. Now, the clock begins when they are offloaded at the Port of Nevada.

“It is a lot more efficient for everyone involved,” Lichter said. “We have been working on this for years, and there were a lot of pieces that had to fall into place with the ocean carriers offering the service to Fernley and Union Pacific approving it.

“This is a huge opportunity for Northern Nevada. It helps imports, it helps local farmers and ranchers with exports, and it can potentially bring more manufacturing and jobs into Northern Nevada. This has been talked about in Reno for about 15 years, but no one has actually come to the table and done it. We are proud that IRG got to what we will call the starting line.”

Taylor Adams, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, told NNBW that the Port of Nevada is a natural addition to Northern Nevada’s position as a national leader in distribution and logistics and helps region maintain its competitive position

“An inland port offers quite a few tangible benefits that are not available with over-the-road trucking,” Adams said. “Anything we can do to provide more certainty to our local supply chain is a powerful add. The port helps guarantee a steady flow of goods into our market, and the more freight we bring into our market, the more freight our industry-leading logisticians can move. It is just a real enhancement to our local economy.”


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