A press release from Merced County celebrated that the California State Transportation Agency announced Merced County was successful in its bid for a $49.6 million grant. The grant is approved with the intent and approval of building an inland port at Castle Commerce Center.

The Central Valley is a source of international produce and commerce. The expansion of this rail yard enhances the unique capacity to move freight worldwide.

Merced County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott Silveira commented that the rail district benefits all of Merced County, as well as the surrounding region.

This grant is hailed as the largest in the history of Merced County and the San Joaquin Valley. It will help the state develop a more efficient, sustainable and resilient goods movement system.

“This is a win for the entire region,” Silveira said. “From local agricultural producers to major manufacturers throughout the Valley, being able to transport goods in a quick and efficient manner is absolutely critical. This grant will position us to drive our economy in the right direction.”

The Merced County press release goes on to illustrate how the transportation agency grant will enhance Castle Commerce Center’s rail capacity by funding the development of 70 acres at Castle to support pre-shipment processing and intermodal cross-docking for Central Valley agricultural producers.

The grant will further help by expanding the railway to a new staging and container laydown area to support cross-docking and processing and evaluating, engineering, and planning for further expansion on existing land within Castle Commerce Center.

These projects will support additional goods movement to and from the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, and the Port of Oakland while making Merced County a focal point for inland goods movement.

Environmentally, the expansion of Castle Commerce Center will be a major player in reducing car emissions as the use of railway travel becomes a bigger reality.

Supervisor Daron McDaniel, whose District 3 includes Castle Commerce Center, said the inland port and rail district has been in the works for many years and is a major focal point for the County.

McDaniel adds, “This is a prime example of government facilitating an environment where the private sector can thrive.”

Courtney Andrade