The Devens Intermodal facility is a truck-rail facility in Ayer, Massachusetts that provides distribution services for businesses dispersed throughout southern New England.
Project Type:Freight Terminal Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:0 Length (mi):0.00
Project Flags:Intermodal Economic Distress:0.87 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):1781 Population Growth Rate (%):-0.13
Employment Growth Rate (%):-0.17 Market Size:1,742,936 Airport Travel Distance:12 Topography:9
Region:New England/Mid-Atlantic State:MA County:Middlesex
City:Ayer Urban/Class Level:Mixed Local Area:Middlesex
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway and Rail GIS Lat/Long:42.545581 / -71.590392
Initial Study Date:1990 Post Constr. Study Date:2000
Constr. Start Date:1992 Constr. End Date:1993
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2006 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):5,153,770 Actual Cost (curr $):8,308,697
Intermodal Actual Cost (YOE $): 2,000,000Intermodal Actual Cost (curr $): 3,224,318
Highway Road Access Improvement Cost (YOE $): 3,153,770Highway Road Access Improvement Cost (curr $): 5,084,379
All Cargo Volume (Metric Tons): N/AContainer Volume (Metric Tons): N/AContainer Volume (TEU's): 82,476
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||9.22||5.94||15.16|
|Output (in $M's)||24.94||16.07||41.01|
The Ayer Intermodal Facility is a truck-rail facility in Ayer, Massachusetts, a major commercial railroad junction in Boston's outer northwestern suburbs. The facility opened in 1993 on land within Fort Devens, an Army base which subsequently closed in 1996 under the base closure and realignment (BRAC) process. For decades, Fort Devens had fueled Ayer's economy. In an attempt to replace lost jobs at the base, a 1,300 acres mixed-use community was developed, including a business park surrounding the intermodal facility. The Devens development has been successful in mitigating the job losses resulting from the base closure. A key incentive for businesses to locate at Devens is rail access, with several businesses building rail spurs for direct rail access to their facilities. However, the Ayer Intermodal Facility does not serve any of the businesses located in the industrial park. Instead, it provides distribution services for businesses dispersed throughout southern New England. To date, Pan Am, the operator of the facility, has invested over $3,019,677 ($2008) in the intermodal operation, and employs 115-130 people on the site.
Between 2005 and 2006, MassDevelopment, as state agency that oversees the development and governance of Devens, invested $4,761,684 ($2008) in road improvements that serve both the Ayer Intermodal Facility and the Devens Industrial Park. The improvements were made as part of the implementation of the master plan for Devens. The road improvements made between 2005 and 2006 have yet to impact development at the intermodal facility, but will support expansion plans expected in the next several years. (Additional road improvements have continued to be made through 2009, but are not included in this case study because they have not been completed long enough to have had an impact on development. These improvements are also expected to benefit the intermodal facility.)
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Ayer Intermodal Facility is located in Ayer, Massachusetts, approximately 35 miles northwest of Boston, on property which was part of Fort Devens, a U.S. Army base decommissioned in 1996. The facility is bound by Barnum Road to the east and south, Saratoga Boulevard and Devens Industrial Park to the west, and West Main Street to north. Principal transportation access to the Ayer Intermodal Facility is via State Route 2, the old Mohawk Trail, which runs across Nashoba Valley and northern Massachusetts. I-495, Boston's outer suburban beltway is 5 miles east on MA-110. State Route 140 and Interstate 190 connect the region to Worcester. The Springfield Terminal Rail Line (the former Boston and Maine Railroad) parallels Route 2 and provides access to the network of intermodal facilities serving central and eastern Massachusetts. The closest major airport is Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, about 27 miles north on MA-11. Logan International Airport in Boston is 33 miles to the east.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The Town of Ayer has operated as a major railroad junction and commercial center since the late 1800's. For years, railroad switching yards, tanneries, and mills prospered because of convenient rail access. Fort Devens army base was established in 1917, eventually consuming nearly 5,000 acres of land in the towns of Ayer, Shirley, Lancaster and Harvard. Its closure in 1996 had a profound effect on the area, resulting in the loss of more than 7,000 area jobs. Ayer lost 6.1 percent of its total population and approximately $6 million in wages from base personnel.
The economic disaster that many feared, however, was averted by the approach that federal, state, and local interests took in the reuse of Devens. This approach included planned development, economic incentives, and streamlined permitting to entice businesses to relocate to Devens. The jobs created at Devens provide both employment opportunities for the people of Ayer and customers for the small shops and services once patronized by military personnel.
From the time Fort Devens was slated for closure, the state sought to take advantage of the rail assets on the property to encourage redevelopment and long-term employment. In 1993, the Army began leasing property for the Ayer Intermodal Facility to Guilford Transportation (predecessor to Pan Am Railways), initiating an investment of over $3 million ($2008) in private capital. The lease between the Army and the railroad was the first to be signed between the Army and a private company for the operation of a facility on an active military installation. The Intermodal Facility was funded solely with private railroad funds.
The Ayer Intermodal facility encompasses approximately 52 acres of land. It was built to handle a capacity of 75,000 truckload equivalent units (TEUs) annually, and has the potential to expand to 175,000 TEUs of capacity. The facility provides connects to Pan Am's 2,000 mile network of rail routes in Maine, New Hampshire Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and Atlantic Canada, and provides interchanges with 15 railroads throughout its network. ,
As part of the implementation of the Devens Master Plan, MassDevelopment invested a total of $4,761,684 ($2008) in road improvements between 2005 and 2006 to improve access to the Devens Industrial Park. Improvements include reconstruction of Jackson Road between Patton Road and Route 2, and realignment of Patton Road between Jackson Road and Barnum Road to remove dangerous curves. (Between 2006 and 2009, MassDevelopment has undertaken the reconstruction of Barnum Road, including new drainage, utilities, sidewalks, curbs, and landscaping. A berm was also added to hide the intermodal facility from the street. These improvements were not analyzed as part of this case study because they have not been in place long enough to allow evaluation of impacts.) None of these improvements were made specifically to serve the intermodal facility, but all were made to the designated truck route between the facility and Route 2.
An expansion to the intermodal facility is planned as part of a track and signal improvement project along the Freight Main Line between Ayer, Massachusetts and Mechanicville, New York (named the Patriot Corridor). Pavement patching and track upgrades will be done, and capacity expanded. The capacity of the facility will be more than doubled, leading to increased truck traffic. The road improvements made to Jackson, Patton and Barnum Roads will benefit this expansion.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
In 2007, the Ayer Intermodal Facility handled 158 rail carloads and processes 316 truck equivalent units (TEUs) per day, based on a 261 day year. The annual number of TEUs handled totals approximately 82,476. The facility has saved over 57,000 long haul truck trips per year.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The Ayer Intermodal Facility employs approximately 115-130 people, including office, warehouse and yard workers. To date, over $3 million ($2008) have been invested in the facility. Improvements planned as part of the improvement of rail service between Ayer and Mechanicville, NY (see below) will cost an additional $2.5 million when built.
In 2008, Pan Am selected Tighe Warehousing and Distribution, Inc. to operate its distribution center at the Ayer Intermodal Facility. Tighe is a leading provider of integrated logistics services in the northeastern U.S., providing supply chain management solutions including domestic transportation, warehousing, freight brokerage, consulting services and real estate development. The Ayer Distribution Center, a 110,000 square foot warehouse located at the front entrance to the intermodal facility, services Pan Am and Tighe customers. Tighe customers include the food, beverage, paper, confection, high tech, health and beauty, and consumer products industries. The distribution center can accommodate up to 11 railcars at one time and can accept multiple switches each day.
In May 2008, Pan Am Railways (formerly Guilford Transportation, which operates what was once known as the Boston and Maine Railroad) and Norfolk Southern Railway announced the formation of a joint venture called Pan Am Southern. Pan Am Southern plans a major upgrade of the Pan Am Southern Main Line between Ayer and Mechanicville, New York (named the Patriot Corridor). The unique leasing arrangement between the army and the railroad helped mitigate some of the negative impacts of the Fort Devens closure. The facility is used by firms in southern New England for shipping and receiving production supplies and finished products. The economic impact of the facility on these businesses and the broader economy cannot be measured as part of this study because the impacts are dispersed over a large region and customer records are not publicly available. The Devens industrial park, which adjacent to the Ayer facility, has attracted numerous firms that use rail for receiving production inputs. However, all of these firms have private rail sidings and truck fleets, and do not use the Ayer Intermodal Facility.
In 1993, the state enacted Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 498, which established the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone (DREZ), designated MassDevelopment as the local redevelopment authority for the nearly 5,000 acres of land once occupied by Fort Devens, and created the Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC). MassDevelopment is a quasi-public finance and development authority that has been given the task of turning Devens into a residential and business community. The agency specializes in compromised surplus governmental property (federal, state, and local), and urban brownfield sites. MassDevelopment's financing programs include economic development lending, tax-exempt bonding, and tax credit financing. The DEC functions as a unified regulatory board comprising a planning board, zoning board, board of health, conservation commission, and historic district commission for Devens. The DEC serves as a one-stop permitting agency.
The Devens Industrial Park has attracted numerous tenants, including US Gypsum (gypsum wallboard), Devens Recycling (metals recycling), MagneMotion (instruments manufacturing), Rock-Tenn (corrugated boxes), New England Sheets (boxes) and Evergreen Systems (solar panels.) In Jackson Technology Park, on the opposite end of the property from the Devens Industrial Park and the Ayer Intermodal Facility, Bristol-Myers Squibb recently completed the phase one build-out of its biopharmaceutical manufacturing and research and development facility. These companies have been attracted to the site primarily by the incentives offered by MassDevelopment.
Devens Enterprise Commission
MassDevelopment Asset Management and Real Estate Department
MassDevelopment, Devens Engineering
Montachusett Regional Planning Commission
Nashoba Chamber of Commerce
Town of Ayer Assessing Administrator
Case study developed by ICF International