Norfolk Southern’s Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility is now open

NS officials said the $97.5 million facility is part of the $2.5 billion Crescent Corridor initiative, which aims to establish an efficient, high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast. This facility is located on a 316-acre site in McCalla, Alabama.

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Roughly 16 months after breaking ground, Class I railroad carrier Norfolk Southern said this week that the Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility is now open.

NS officials said the $97.5 million facility is part of the $2.5 billion Crescent Corridor initiative, which aims to establish an efficient, high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast. This facility is located on a 316-acre site in McCalla, Alabama. 

“There is no other intermodal rail public-private project today that compares with the magnitude of the Crescent Corridor in terms of job creation or environmental benefits,” NS CEO Wick Moorman said. “Because of its strategic location and the growing intermodal demands throughout the country, the Birmingham terminal will serve as a major gateway for truck-competitive freight moving between the South and Northeast and enable NS to launch new service from Birmingham to the Northeast and to Mexico.

Moorman added that there is no other intermodal rail public-private project today that compares with the magnitude of the Crescent Corridor in terms of job creation or environmental benefits.  And he said that because of its strategic location and the growing intermodal demands throughout the country, the Birmingham terminal will serve as a major gateway for truck-competitive freight moving between the South and Northeast and enable NS to launch new service from Birmingham to the Northeast and to Mexico. 

This facility is expected to create 8,600 jobs in Central Alabama in the next ten years, with capacity expected to handle 165,000 containers and trailers on an annual basis.

NS added that this terminal will use sophisticated gate and terminal automation technology that is said shortens waiting time for trucks entering the terminal and reduces emissions and improves truck driver productivity.

Launched in June 2007, the Crescent Corridor is a public-private partnership (PPP) to build a rail corridor spanning from Louisiana to New Jersey. NS officials said this endeavor will expand and improve its rail network from the northeast to the southeast, expedite the delivery of cargo shipments, and reduce highway congestion by diverting truck traffic. When it is completed, NS said it will stretch across 2,500 miles from New Orleans to Newark, N.J. and run through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana.

The Crescent Corridor’s first phase is expected to be completed by 2013.

The Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility is the second of four new intermodal terminals that are part of the Crescent Corridor initiative to open, with the Memphis facility becoming operational in July and Birmingham’s regional sister facility in Greencastle, Pa. set to open in January. NS said that construction on a new terminal in Charlotte, N.C. began earlier this year.

“[These] corridors are focused on increasing rail capacity for freight currently moving by truck,” NS spokesperson Susan Terpay told LM in a previous interview. “And to be able to do that, we need to have these terminals up and running. We are still in the process of constructing the terminals to accomplish that task.”

NS cited the following as benefits of the Crescent Corridor upon its completion:
-$326 million in tax revenues to states and communities;
-1.3 million long-haul trucks diverted from interstates;
-$146 million in accident avoidance savings;
-1.9 million tons in CO2 reduction;
-$575 million in congestion savings;
-$92 million in highway maintenance savings; and
-169 million gallons in fuel savings.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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Not Your Grandfather's Intermodal Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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