The drive route set out for us by Ford took us underground, into the SubTropolis industrial park in Kansas City. From Wiki: SubTropolis is a 55,000,000 square foot (5,060,000 m³), 1,100-acre (4.5 km2) manmade cave in the bluffs above the Missouri River in Kansas City, Missouri, United States, that is claimed to be the world’s largest underground storage facility.
The Transit vans leave the Subtropolis underground industrial park in Kansas City. Photo by David Freers/Ford Motor Company.
Five million square feet have been developed as part of the industrial park, with another eight million square feet in progress. Below this, limestone continues to be extracted from the mine. If you aren’t looking for an office with a view, there’s a lot to like about being housed underground. The weather is a comfortable 65-70 F, 365 days a year, so heating and air-conditioning doesn’t cost a dime. And you don’t have to worry about tornadoes, either. Apparently there are some tax advantages to going underground as well.
Driving in the SubTropolis is an otherworldly experience. Roadways wind around enormous pillars. I was surprised to see tractor-trailer loading docks located down there. It must be a little unnerving to be sent on a delivery to SubTropolis if you don’t know what you’re getting into, but I’m told most of the big rig drivers who deliver there are familiar with the park.
The SubTropolis is home to a number of upfitters who take Ford trucks and vans from the nearby plant and then equip them with their own bodies and accessories before sending them back to Ford or onto the end-users.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies