PIA Awards Contract For Int’l Terminal (Updated)

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A commenter alerted me to the news that the Metropolitan Airport Authority board has awarded a contract for an international terminal to Peoria Metro Construction.

WEEK TV-25’s website has the story here.

Look for an update later for more information.

Update (October 31): Peoria Metro Construction has a 159-page pdf document which details plans for the new international terminal.

Also, recall the design change that was to give Allegiant Air a new gate. It was indicated that this gate would be incorporated into the new international terminal, but starting on page 51, one can see that the new gate actually comes out of the existing terminal in the form of 180-foot covered walkway to ensure adequate parking space for aircraft.

Detailed plans for the new terminal itself can be found on subsequent pages. A detailed drawing for the existing terminal can be found on page 137.

Finally, this 15-page document shows roadway and ramp improvements.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – American Milling Co. LP

Cahokia, Illinois-based American Milling Co. LP operates two local facilities, both in Pekin. One is a feed mill located between the Illinois & Midland Railroad (IMRR) mainline and Crystal Lake. The other is an IMRR-owned barge dock on Crystal Lake.

The first such facility can be seen below, on May 3, 2008. The plant was built in the fall of 1985 by Gateway Grain Co., a subsidiary of Cahokia, Illinois-based American Milling Co. Eventually, the facility operated under its parent’s name. Information is scarce (this company has no website), but it appears that rail transportation is used for inbound gluten feed, corn screenings and possibly other materials for feed production. Some feed may be shipped by rail as well.

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American Milling Co., 1811 American St., on an overcast May 3, 2008

The second facility was built in 1994 by the Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad as a way to diversify from its then-declining coal traffic. The C&IM contracted with American Milling to operate it. The primary use of the facility is for feed loaded at Aventine Renewable Energy to be shipped here in covered hoppers and then dumped into barges for export markets.

As for other users, it is believed that nearby Illinois Corn Processing LLC sends both feed and ethanol (which arrives in tank cars) here. Incobrasa Industries covered hoppers have been noted here on occasion, so that company may ship soybean cake/flakes/meal from its Gilman plant.

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On April 23, 2014, Illinois & Midland No. 30 drills covered hoppers and tank cars on industrial track serving Agridyne LLC and American Milling Co. LP facilities

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Amerhart Ltd.

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CN’s “Peoria Local” switches Amerhart on October 10, 2011

It is fortunate that Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Amerhart Ltd. decided to stay in the Peoria area.

Word is they looked at Growth Cell 2 for expansion, but the City of Peoria’s seeming lack of interest in industrial development persuaded them to relocate from 1926 Lydia St. to Pekin’s Riverway Park. True or not I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

The company’s Peoria history began with Alexander Warehouse & Sales Co., which opened on Peoria’s south side in the spring of 1946. Rail service was provided by the Peoria & Pekin Union Railway until 1981 when the Chicago & North Western cancelled its switching contract and took over service. Amerhart acquired Alexander Warehouse & Sales in 1989, and purchased nearby (2700 SW Washington St.) Sequoia Supply Co’s inventory in 1993.

Around 2002, it appeared that Amerhart was running out of room. Outside stacks of lumber were common. So perhaps this was when the company began seeking a new site for expansion. The Pekin Times reported in 2005 that the company purchased acreage at Riverway Business Park.

Rail transportation clearly influenced Amerhart’s decision. Much of its lumber came from Canadian sources, and originated on Canadian National Railway (or a carrier which delivered to CN). For many years, CN delivered this traffic to C&NW (UP from 1995) at Superior, Wisconsin giving the latter a line-haul of several hundred miles. Since merging with Wisconsin Central Ltd. in 2002, however, CN extended its own line haul over the former WC to Chicago then former Illinois Central (which it acquired in 1999) to East Peoria. Union Pacific was left with but a mere switch move.

Lumber also arrived from Montana. Originating on Montana Rail Link, BNSF hauled a few boxcars a month from Billings, Montana to P&PU at East Peoria where delivery was made to C&NW/UP there.

You can bet that UP wasn’t happy acting as merely a switching carrier, and adjusted its switching charges to discourage such. Since most lumber arrived via CN anyway, it made sense to move to a CN-served location. The new warehouse opened in early October 2006.

Today, CN’s daily local delivers boxcars and centerbeam flat cars on a regular basis. They’re dropped at Pekin Siding northbound then picked up and delivered on the local’s southbound trip. Facilities can handle three boxcars and four centerbeam flats at once. See another photo and video below.

Amerhart Ltd’s Pekin distribution center on October 7, 2006, shortly after opening

At 3 min., 39 secs, CN’s Peoria Local switches Amerhart on May 24, 2014

– David P. Jordan

Atterbury Elevator Track Update

The new rail siding for Prairieland FS’s recently-expanded Atterbury, Illinois elevator is complete.

At least that’s what it looked like the evening of October 25, 2014.

It took long enough. Several times since learning of expansion plans, I swung by to check for progress. On March 17, 2013, the elevator expansion was underway, but no track materials had arrived. Same situation on June 5 that year.

I made another trip on November 29, 2013 and found that track materials had arrived, and were stored just south of town. It appeared that track construction would have to commence shortly and progress rapidly or the contractor would have to wait until spring.

I made another visit on March 9, 2014 only to find nothing had changed. Same for May 26. A few months later, I noticed photos posted on Prairieland FS’s website showing the track expansion, which had apparently begun in June.

I made another trip to Atterbury on August 23 to find some track laid south of town and crossties laid north. It appeared that no progress had been made following another inspection on September 6.

I considered checking again Friday (Oct. 24), but was unable to do so. Saturday, I made a second trip to the Springfield area, and was determined to check Atterbury while there was sufficient light.

Below are before and after photos taken at various times 2013 and Saturday, October 25, 2014. The first set shows the Illinois & Midland Railroad mainline from the southeast side of the elevator. The next set shows before and after the railcar loader was built. The third set shows the elevator from the northwest looking southeast.

Then-Lincolnland FS elevator seen March 9, 2013 looking northwest from Atterbury Street

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Same location as above, seen October 25, 2014

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This view taken June 5, 2013 shows the location where railcar loader would be built

Same location, but slightly different angle, shows railcar loader on October 25, 2014

Looking southeast from Hardin Avenue on November 29, 2013

Same location as above, October 25, 2014

Finally, although this siding is completed, it doesn’t appear to have been used yet. Prairieland FS can load 25 covered hoppers at a time here. Likely destinations in the Peoria-Pekin area. The Illinois & Midland Railroad has direct access to two processors in Pekin – Aventine Renewable Energy and Illinois Corn Processing LLC – and a barge loadout on Crystal Lake. Sister Tazewell & Peoria can deliver to multiple rail-to-barge docks and also Archer Daniels Midland Co. in Peoria.

Shipments to ADM or Tate & Lyle in Decatur are possible as well, though that would require an interline movement with either Canadian National or Norfolk Southern via Springfield.

– David P. Jordan

Ask PeoriaStation

It is time for another “Ask Peoria Station.” As always, feel free to ask any transportation-related question. If I don’t an answer, I’ll find one.

(More Peoria Area Rail Users posts are coming, but I may not have time until later this evening at the earliest.)

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Alter Metal Recycling Co.

Alter Metal Recycling Co., Bartonville, Illinois, June 15, 2013 (view looks north)

Alter Metal Recycling, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Alter Trading Corporation, is the contract operator of Keystone Steel & Wire Co’s Bartonville scrap metal processing facility.
This facility dates back to at least the 1950s. Originally operated by Lipsett Steel Products (later acquired by Luria Brothers & Company), over 1,000 steam locomotives were cut up here for recycling steel into wire products. Keystone Steel & Wire purchased Luria Bros’ facility in late 1982 and set up its own subsidiary, Scrap Products Inc.

Since taking over from Scrap Products Inc. in late 1999, Alter has received various kinds of scrap metal and junk, and even old railcars for scrapping, to convert into shredded scrap for melting at Keystone’s adjacent furnace.

The Tazewell & Peoria Railroad is serving carrier, though Alter has its own locomotive (ex-Minnesota Commercial Railroad CF-7 No. 484, which arrived in August 2008) to switch loads and empties on its property.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Allied Iron & Steel Co.

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Allied Iron & Steel Co., October 9, 2011. Note old BN access at right.

Allied Iron & Steel Co., a subsidiary of A. Miller & Co., has operated an auto shredder and scrap metal processing facility at the Foot of W. Clarke Street on Peoria’s far south side since 1965.

Originally served by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, then Burlington Northern from 1970, rail service switched to the Peoria & Pekin Union sometime in 1983 or shortly thereafter. (I can confirm that only BN was serving them in April 1983, and that only P&PU was serving them in May 1988).

What happened is that BN decided to abolish its Peoria yard switch engine (August 5, 1983) and have its Galesburg – Peoria “wayfreight” crew handle all local switching. But the railroad wanted as little work to do for its road crews (otherwise, they might not complete their roundtrip before hitting hours-of-service). Allied Iron & Steel, probably BN’s largest customer, generated mostly switching, but little if any line-haul business.

It is likely that in 1983 (as today), most of Allied Iron & Steel’s shredded scrap steel went to Keystone Steel & Wire, so it would go to P&PU anyway for delivery to that customer. Thus, at an unknown date, P&PU built a spur from its nearby mainline to Allied’s property, and cut off BN’s access. (There is a possibility, however, that both roads served Allied for a few years. An outward-facing switchtrack, now lacking switch rails, or point blades, is still visible just inside Allied’s property gate. See photo.)

In 2014, Allied Iron & Steel seems to get switched on a semi-regular basis. Serving carrier Tazewell & Peoria Railroad (and P&PU sucessor) spots empty gondolas and pulls loads. Some years ago, I remember seeing covered hoppers there, so I believe Allied also scraps retired rail cars, or at least used to.

Remembering A. Miller & Co and the “Alley Track”
From at least the end of World War 2, until early 2002, A. Miller & Co., 1612 SW Adams Street, shipped scrap metal and junk by rail to various destinations, namely Keystone Steel & Wire (Bartonville). In the 1990s, gondolas with C&NW and IAIS markings suggested that then-Northwestern Steel & Wire (Sterling) and then-North Star Steel in Wilton, Iowa received some shipments (for further processing, of course).

In 1995, Burlington Northern made a deal with the Toledo, Peoria & Western for that carrier to take over its Galesburg-Peoria freight business and local customers. Between early 1996 and June 2011, TP&W performed this duty, but it appears that this complex arrangement for primarily short-haul shipments made trucking a better alternative for A. Miller & Co. The last rail shipments occured in January 2002.

– David P. Jordan

The Pantagraph Reports Frontier Airlines’ Seasonal Cutbacks, THREE MONTHS After This Blog!

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I’m not bragging, just making light of an incredible flaw in today’s local news reporting.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or brain surgeon, whichever cliche you prefer) to learn of upcoming airline service changes. Airliners.net is probably the best (only after consulting on-line schedules), but there are others. Yet print, radio and television media only learn of such changes through airline press releases or emails.

This means blogs can scoop stories like this one well ahead of traditional media. I mentioned Frontier’s seasonal cutbacks in a July 22 post. Bloomington’s Pantagraph is reporting today that the airline is cutting service at Central Illinois Regional Airport (CIRA).

PeoriaStation scoops the story THREE MONTHS ahead of The Pantagraph!

Details have changed since my July 22 post. For one thing, it appears Frontier’s Orlando flights had already been suspended in June. July schedules still showed them as current, so Frontier might have been an abrupt change. These resume twice-weekly on December 5 (not December 15, as schedules then showed).

Service to Denver ends January 7, and is supposed to resume in the spring.

This seasonal change is expected to become permanent. And CIRA officials should hope that is it, because CIRA could lose Frontier altogether…and I’m willing to bet they will. The Pantagraph article tells us why.

Last year, Republic Airways Holdings also sold Frontier to Indigo Partners, and the new owners announced plans to revamp the airline into an ultra-low-cost carrier in the same mode as Spirit Airlines.

“They’re not leaving us permanently. They have a limited number of airplanes and a lot of things they are doing differently,” Strebing said.

The decision is one more illustration of the competitive nature of the industry today.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck call,” said Mike La Pier, the airport’s former executive director, now a vice president for The Boyd Group, a Colorado-based aviation consulting firm.

“If you have a mobile asset like an airplane … you’re going to put your asset where you can make the most money,” he said. So the goal is to exceed Frontier’s expectations to the point where the service is “so successful in the market that they don’t want to find another place to put their mobile asset.”

Frontier has been reducing its Denver hub and building “focus cities” at Washington-Dulles, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Cincinnati. You can bet the A319s used at CIRA would be more valuable if redeployed to these new routes.

This is another ominous sign for CIRA in that it is failing to recover from the loss of AirTran Airways in June 2012. Frontier’s seasonal suspension of Orlando flights is hurting tremendously.

Frontier began the CIRA service to the two destinations in May 2012, shortly after the airport lost its then-No. 2 carrier, AirTran Airways. Last year Frontier served a total of 76,434 passengers at the airport, nearly 18 percent of the 428,638 passengers that used the facility.

During the first nine months of the year, passengers totaled 49,883, a drop of 17.4 percent from the 60,413 served during the same time in 2013 — a consequence of suspending Orlando service and scaling back Denver service from four weekly flights to three in late summer.

So CIRA’s 2014 passenger totals will most certainly fall below 2013, and in 2015 may come under 400,000 for the first time since 1998.

Finally, you gotta love airport directors and their need to spin negative news. CIRA director Carl Olsen told the Pantagraph:

“It isn’t that we don’t have a strong market; it’s that we don’t have enough capacity.”


Of course, Frontier wouldn’t be cutting service if there wasn’t sufficient capacity. Maybe he’s talking about the other airlines?

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Akron Services Inc. (Embedded Video)

Akron Services Inc. July 16, 2011. Note two anhydrous ammonia tank cars.

This one might fit my “Gritty, Industrial Railroad” series (see bottom for video).

Served by the Union Pacific Railroad, the Akron Services Inc. facility at 17705 N. Elevator Road, Edelstein, is primarily a grain elevator, but its use of rail transportation is limited to inbound fertilizer.

Inbound anhydrous ammonia, that is.

I used to see rare a covered hopper or two there, but since about 2007, I’ve seen only tank cars. A fairly decent quantity of anydrous ammonia can be unloaded there in a year’s time.

Video below was taken March 30, 2011. It shows Union Pacific’s short-lived Peoria – Nelson turn, LPD01B, switching Akron Services on March 30, 2011. UP motors 9347 (C40-8), 3450 (SD40-2) and 3952 (SD70M) had 71 cars after pulling two anhydrous ammonia empties.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Agridyne LLC

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Agridyne LLC liquid feed plant near Pekin in July 2007. The spur on which the tank cars stand was fairly new at this time.

Unfortunately, this one made the news last June when two workers died after inhaling hydrogen sulfide gas.

Agridyne LLC’s history is a little murky – there’s not much on its website – but the Springfield, IL-based company may have been called “Timberlake Sales” when it started operations 20+ years ago. At least that’s the company that built a liquid feed terminal on then-Santa Fe’s mainline at Chillicothe c. 1993.

The Pekin facility, 1615 S. 2nd Street, was built by AniPro Feeds. But it seems that AniPro sold to Agridyne either shortly before or shortly after production started in 1996.

Agridyne has been a significant customer for the Illinois & Midland Railroad, even more so about when the Chillicothe facility closed and operations were consolidated at Pekin. In 2007, a new, stub-ended siding was built to accommodate the resulting increased traffic.

Product ingredients are revealed here. Corn Condensed Distillers Solubles is a technical name for “steepwater.” Condensed Fermented Corn Extractives is likewise another name for “corn steep liquor.” Both can be obtained from nearby Aventine Renewable Energy Inc., though others suppliers are possible (ADM and Tate & Lyle in Decatur, Ingredion at Summit Argo, etc.). Feed grade vegetable oil could be either corn or soybean oil. Presumably, the latter is used.

Agridyne’s use of rail service appears to be mostly outbound shipments of “Mix 30” liquid feed. BNSF and Union Pacific freight trains leave Peoria regularly with tank car loads of this product bound for western feed lots. Agridyne has five other manufacturing plants, so Pekin doesn’t likely supply all 20 distribution facilities. But they probably handle most shipments to the Great Plains.

The March 1995 issue of PACIFIC RAIL NEWS noted that then-AniPro Feeds would generate 800 cars a year to start, and 1,500 by 1998. I can believe Agridyne does that many in 2014 (about 28 cars a week).

– David P. Jordan