The process of transloading began in 2007 when 24 railcars of white cement were unloaded on a short railroad spur in the Concrete Material’s former Rice St. sand plant yard. The spur was originally used to load sand for intra-company shipments. When the sand plant depleted mineral reserves and operations relocated, the value of the spur was soon realized as inquiries for a location to unload railcars became more frequent.
In 2010, an agreement with Headwaters Resources increased the annual railcar count to over 200 with the addition of the commodity fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of the coal burning process during electrical generation. It can be used as an ingredient in ready mixed concrete. Later in that same year, the first Holcim cement cars were also unloaded. Both of these transloads contracts were completed utilizing a semi-portable temporary system.
By the spring of 2011, the construction and installation of a gravity unloading system and over 2,700 feet of rail track siding was completed and put into service. Because of the improved facilities, the cement car traffic accelerated very quickly. Unfortunately, the fly ash car count seen in the previous year did not sustain due strains put on the rail system by the North Dakota Bakken Oil boom.
On January 1, 2012, the company Rail to Road, Inc. was formed to provide services for current and anticipated requests of transload customers. This separation from Sweetman Const. Co. dba Concrete Materials ensured a continued focused vision to the transloading service and guaranteed its customer’s confidentiality.
In the summer/fall of 2012, Rail to Road constructed and put into service over 6,000 tons of overhead storage and added an additional 1,200 feet of rail track siding. This overhead storage was constructed for dry bulk powdered products, specifically cement and fly ash. This large capital investment drastically improved the services offered to customers.
During the summer of 2013, Rail to Road partnered with Headwaters Resources and constructed a 23,000 ton fly ash storage and load-out facility south of Sioux City, IA, in the Port Neal landing area. This storage facility helps temper the seasonal demand volatility experienced in the fly ash industry.
On April 1st, 2015, Rail to Road began providing services to W.R. Grace & Co. Rail to Road is transloading and warehousing totes of concrete admixture in a facility near Tea, SD. The totes are delivered to the warehouse in over-the-road semi-trucks from the various manufacturing facilities; Rail to Road unloads them and warehouses the products in a climate controlled environment. As W.R. Grace’s customers place orders, Rail to Road assists in loading the totes into tanker trucks for delivery to regional ready mix plants. Even though this facility does not involve rail at all, it still falls well within our focus and expertise.