CSX continues to make inroads on National Gateway project
October 25, 2012 - LM Editorial
Class I rail carrier CSX and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania this week heralded the midway point of progress on the first phase of projects for the National Gateway.
The National Gateway is a roughly $850 million public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure initiative designed to provide a highly efficient freight transportation link between the Mid-Atlantic ports and the Midwest. It was first unveiled by CSX in May 2008. This effort spans six states and Washington, D.C. and is comprised of both rail capacity and intermodal terminal capacity improvements.
CSX said one of the National Gateway’s chief objectives is to alleviate freight bottlenecks in the Midwest that cause delays for West Coast-originated freight through the creation of a double-stack cleared corridor for intermodal shipments between the Midwest and mid-Atlantic ports.
In Pennsylvania, the $13 million J&L Tunnel project, which is an upgrade to a tunnel built in the 1880s that runs directly through the SouthSide Works complex in Pittsburgh, is what CSX and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania said will soon be the latest Phase One project to increase vertical clearance on CSX rail lines to increase vertical clearance on CSX rail lines to accommodate trains carrying double-stacked intermodal containers. CSX added that the J&L Tunnel upgrade and other National Gateway projects are funded through contributions by CSX and the federal government, as well as a $35 million Pennsylvania Transportation Assistance Program (TAP) Grant. The State of Ohio is also contributing $30 million to this first phase of clearance work.
The company said Phase One, which is focused on creating double-stack rail access between CSX’ intermodal terminal in Northwest Ohio and its intermodal terminal in Chambersburg, Pa. is expected to be completed by next spring and augment access to intermodal freight shipping options.
“We are proud that we have been able to work with our partners in the federal and state government, communities and the private sector to invest in strategic transportation infrastructure that will alleviate highway congestion and enable our customers to better leverage rail, the most environmentally friendly way to ship goods over land,” said CSX President and CEO Michael Ward in a statement.
Other National Gateway developments introduced by CSX include:
-an August 2011 announcement that it has invested $59 million in an intermodal terminal expansion in Columbus, Ohio, which includes a redesign of the site footprint installation and realignment of tracks, reconfiguration of inbound and outbound truck gates, additional onsite parking, and three, high tech, rail-mounted, electric wide-span cranes, which will operate with zero emissions and regenerate power back to the terminal grid or to the electric utility;
-a May 2011 announcement that it will make a $160 million investment over the next several years to help complete the National Gateway project; and
- a February 2011 announcement that the National Gateway launched operations of its new Northeast Ohio Terminal. National Gateway officials said that the Northeast Ohio Terminal is the cornerstone of a new double-stack freight rail corridor between East Coast sea ports such as the Port of Baltimore and the Midwest, adding that it employs more than 200 full-time employees, and will serve as the transfer point for hundreds of thousands of freight containers annually.
CSX executives have stated that this effort will highlight the effectiveness of intermodal transportation, in terms of economic and efficiency gain, noting that “intermodal transportation combines the efficiency of rail with the flexibility of trucks …and as our nation faces combined pressures from an increasingly globalized economy and deteriorating transportation infrastructure, it is critical that we work together to bolster this pillar of our national economy.”
And industry analysts have told LM that the National Gateway continues the model to bring in a wide variety of constituents to support efforts to add infrastructure capacity, as well as highlight how intermodal cooperation is critical both now and in the future to boost freight movement in the National Gateway’s corridors.
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