Following passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, America’s heartland entered a new era as an international trade crossroads. The 1,500 miles of I-35 and I-29 create the only central interstate highway corridor linking the three countries of North America. This corridor carries significant trade with Mexico and Canada.
It is no secret that some of the nation’s leading trucking lines have major facilities in Kansas City. Its strategic location at the convergence of I-35 and I-70 places it literally at the crossroads of America. Trucks leaving Kansas can quickly and efficiently reach the international ports on either coast or the NAFTA trade partners to the north and the south. Kansas City is one of the nation’s leading freight rail hubs as well, ranking first in annual rail tonnage and second in annual rail volume.
The designation of I-35 and I-29 as “high-priority corridors” in the early 1990s made these interstates eligible for additional federal funding through the National Corridor Planning and Development (NCPD) Program. Two successfully negotiated Memoranda of Understanding with the Treasury Department have helped eight states secure more than $30 million to improve transportation technology and infrastructure on these two major interstates.
In addition, efforts are currently underway to develop prototype customs facilities in Kansas City, making it a “high-tech inland port.” KC SmartPort, a non-profit economic development organization, is the authority on logistics opportunities in the 18-county, bi-state Kansas City region.
KC SmartPort promotes and enhances the Kansas City region’s status as a leading North American logistics hub, and its mission is two-fold:
To grow the Kansas City area’s transportation industry by attracting businesses with significant transportation and logistics elements; and
To make the industry and the region more competitive in the movement of goods into, out of and through the Kansas City bi-state region.