BNSF: Logistics center still on track for Cleveland

Gary Laffoon with BNSF Railway speaks to the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 6.

A BNSF Railway logistics center that is being built on a 1,200-acre property on Fostoria Road in Cleveland is expected to have shovel-ready sites available by the first quarter of 2024. Gary Laffoon, director of economic development and strategic projects for BNSF Railroad, gave an update on the project to the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce at a membership luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Once it is completely built out, the BNSF Railway in Cleveland will have 700 developable acres that will accommodate up to 39 customer sites with sizes ranging from 6 to 60 acres.

A logistics center is a large industrial and business park that has immediate access to a rail line. The Cleveland logistics center will have about two miles of direct rail access and another 2-3 miles of rail line that will be installed to create a loop around the logistics center.

“It’s like a big, long horse track,” explained Laffoon.

While the logistics center is still under construction, it already has gained attention from businesses wishing to locate there in the future.

The Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce is inviting a different student club organization each month to attend the luncheon and host a fundraiser of their choice (this takes place of Student Ambassadors and allows our members to learn about the student clubs within Cleveland & Tarkington schools). This month the Chamber welcomed the Cleveland High School FFA, which is selling meats and fruits as part of their current fundraiser.

“We are still working on agreements with one of the customers. We can’t say who they are yet but they will handle a lot of lumber, steel and some other building materials,” Laffoon said. “We are currently working with about six to seven aggregate companies who have shown considerable interest in locating here. My thought is we will have an aggregate company in there, which will mean a considerable volume of rail traffic coming through here.”

A chemicals and liquids transloading operation, which ships products for other manufacturers, and a steel assembly facility that could mean about 300-plus jobs for the area also have an interest in the logistics center. Laffoon mentioned the possibility of a facility that will manufacture batteries for electric cars.

“We are still waiting on a lot of those to come to fruition. There has been a lot of activity in the amount of time that we have had this project out,” Laffoon.

As rail transportation is still one of the most environmental-friendly and cost-effective ways for businesses to ship goods and materials, BNSF looks for the logistics center to be a vibrant part of the Cleveland business community for many years to come.

“We are going to be here and be a part of the community. We expect this is going to be a long relationship between BNSF and the City of Cleveland,” he said.

The logistics center will require a tremendous amount of water and generate a high volume of wastewater, so BNSF has already partnered with the City of Cleveland to provide some of the infrastructure it needs, including an elevated water storage tank and a wastewater treatment plant. BNSF also is donating a two-acre parcel of land at the park to the City for a future fire station.

As for how the logistics center will impact traffic, Laffoon said it’s too early to tell what the final volume will be. The main entrance to the logistics center will be off Fostoria Road with access to SH 105 and the SH 105 bypass. A back exit on FM 1725 will be used for emergencies only.

To learn more about the project, go online to

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