Coming Down the Pike: Phoenix warehouse boom favors nationwide local trucking

LONG BEACH, August 18 – Warehousing is big business and getting even bigger, especially along Interstate 10, the 2,500-mile transcontinental highway that stretches across the southern tier of the United States from Santa Monica, California all the way to Jacksonville, Florida.

That means more business for the trucking industry, especially those segments of the industry that favor local trucking.  

Indeed, according to The Wall Street Journal, a new “warehouse corridor” ideal for trucking is forming along a “desert-lined freeway” just outside Phoenix, Arizona as companies seek alternative paths for distribution into the US away from “congested and costly” coastal gateways. 

Through the second quarter of this year, companies had leased a net total of 16 million square feet of industrial space in the Phoenix area, the paper said, with another 19.8m sq ft of industrial space under construction in the region – the third busiest market for industrial real estate in the nation.

A cost-effective destination

Nick Parrish, managing director at private-investment firm Cresset Partners LLC, which is developing industrial buildings in the Phoenix area, told the paper that on balance, it is “cost-effective” to transport goods the 300 or so miles to and from the West Coast ports.

“When you weigh the cost of transportation and trucking, versus the delay of goods coming into the port, it became feasible for retailers to look at putting stuff on a truck and trucking it over to Phoenix, where you have ample space to be able to develop these really big, large logistics facilities,” Parrish said.

That view is shared by others now developing sites in the area known as the Loop 303 Corridor.

“You can get to the ports in six hours, drop your shipment and get back home, all within allowable times. And the further west you are, the closer you are to those ports. It makes sense that industry is going to locate closer to the ports,” according to John Orsak, vice president for Lincoln Property Company.

Trucks have a direct route in

Trucks provide the most direct way to get to the region from the West Coast ports, the WSJ reported, saying that while two Class I railroads serve Phoenix, neither has a direct route to Los Angeles.

Pat Feeney, executive vice president for CBRE in Phoenix, said that when it comes to industrial sites with rail access, “we are in short supply of that right now.”

But Orsak’s firm does not restrict the attraction of Phoenix solely to its proximity to the West Coast ports. It also notes that “with superior access to freeways, your supply chain will be directly connected with major ports and major cities in all directions.” 

That is a shout-out for national prominence, with Phoenix touting its location on the Interstate 10, which links leading cities and population centers across the US, not only on the West Coast but also along the nation’s southern tier which includes such major seaports as Houston, New Orleans, Pascagoula, Mobile, and Jacksonville.

As a growing link in the US supply chain, Phoenix represents a major new opportunity on the road to decongestion: a new gateway for gathering the nation’s cargo and a model for local trucking.  

PHOTO: The junction of Interstate 10 and Loop 303 in Phoenix, AZ.  ©Pulice Construction