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Critics Call Inland Port Decision A ‘Massive Missed Opportunity’

Centerstate CEO President Rob Simpson (right) with Assemblyman Al Stirpe.
Centerstate CEO President Rob Simpson (right) with Assemblyman Al Stirpe.

WRVO (SYRACUSE) - Centerstate CEO President Rob Simpson is criticizing a report on central New York’s inland port, and the New York State Department of Transportation’s decision to locate the project in the town of DeWitt. The inland port would receive goods by rail from the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Two years ago, Simpson said the inland port had the potential to create 2,000 jobs if warehousing could be developed adjacent to the rail terminal. But he said the DeWitt location is surrounded by protected wetlands, making it difficult to build warehousing.

“The decision that has been made, which is to effectively declare the DeWitt rail yard as the only viable site for a central New York inland port, is inaccurate, represents a failure for this process, and represents a massive missed opportunity for central New York,” Simpson said.

Simpson supported the inland port in the town of Camillus because there is more land to build warehousing. But the state commissioned report concluded DeWitt was the only viable option because it had a commitment from CSX railways for service. Simpson said if customers required rail service, CSX would have to provide service.

“We ought to be driving this investment based on what is important to central New York, and not what is important to CSX,” Simpson said. "Instead of engaging with the community stakeholders in a collaborative fashion to achieve our goals, it feels as if we're being told what will happen in our backyard and I frankly don't appreciate that."

Simpson said the state could invest $15 million into rail enhancements. Officials at the state DOT said the project would lower the cost to ship goods and still has the potential to create jobs.