BNSF Memphis Intermodal Facility expansion engineering services

Project Summary

BNSF Railway, the No. 1 intermodal carrier among U.S. railroads, selected Hanson and a joint-venture partner to assist with the expansion of its existing Memphis Intermodal (Tennessee Yard) facility.  The Hanson team provided planning; environmental assessments, mitigation and permitting; civil, geotechnical and structural engineering; and construction administration services.

The expansion consists of a new 185-acre, innovative intermodal facility using rail-mounted wide-span cranes and an automated gate system.  The expansion increases the facility’s capacity from 250,000 annual cargo lifts to more than 1 million annual lifts.  The facility also has parking configurations to hold an inventory of more than 6,000 trucks.

As part of the expansion, Hanson assisted with several components, including obtaining approval for closures on three city streets and a state road as well as utility relocations.  The team also addressed the environmental needs of a creek and a lateral tributary, choosing culverts to carry the water under the expansion area. Both culverts required individual permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Memphis District; Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; and Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program. 

The team helped add an additional lead track to accommodate the facility expansion. The lead track work included modifying three highway bridges to accommodate the new track, adding a new through-plate girder railroad bridge and providing grading and drainage services.

The expanded facility features six 7,500-foot intermodal tracks for loading/unloading goods.  Five loading cranes load and unload rail cargo, and three stacking cranes, approximately nine-stories-tall, manage container stacking on the ground.  The loading cranes add to the facility’s efficiency with the ability to operate over three truck drive aisles and six intermodal tracks. Additionally, the cranes run on electricity rather than diesel fuel, providing environmental benefits.

Using modern technology throughout its operations, BNSF included an automated gate system (AGS) to process inbound and outbound traffic in the Memphis Intermodal Terminal.  The AGS combined optical character recognition and other technologies — automatically identifying, inspecting and processing trucks, containers, chassis, trailers and drivers entering and exiting the facility.

"The Hanson team displayed resourcefulness and dedication in managing a project of this magnitude, and they met the tight timeline for completion. Hanson juggled engineering, planning, environmental, permitting, demolition, and construction projects — often simultaneously. The result is a state-of-the-art intermodal facility that enables BNSF to service the needs of its current and future clients, spurs economic growth and job creation in the Memphis area, and enhances the nation’s transportation infrastructure without sacrificing the environment." — Robert Boileau, BNSF Railway Co.