Railroad shipping: CSX invests another $160 million into National Gateway project
May 19, 2011 - LM Editorial
Class I railroad carrier CSX announced this week that it will make a $160 million investment over the next several years to help complete an ambitious railroad infrastructure project, 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.
“Through the National Gateway, CSX and its public partners are working together to vastly improve the quality and flexibility of the eastern rail network,” said Michael J. Ward, CSX chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “With today’s new $160 million commitment, CSX will have obligated a total of about $575 million over several years to better meet the needs of our customers, our states and our ports.”
Along with CSX’ investment into the National Gateway, states, including Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, and federal partners are investing more than $280 million in the project, in an effort to invest in the quality of transportation infrastructure that is key for America’s competitiveness, according to National Gateway officials.
They added that the majority of the announced $160 million investment by CSX will be used to expand and improve the century-old Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington, D.C. and provide double-stack train clearances in Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
In February, 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 will gradually transition customer shipments through the new terminal over the next few months. Once all of the transitions are complete, the Northwest Ohio facility is expected to handle a throughput capacity, including block swaps and lifts, of nearly 2 million containers per year. Blocks are multiple rail cars with a common destination, and lifts refer to container handling between rail cars and trucks.
When the entire National Gateway project is completed, CSX officials said it will provide greater capacity for product shipments in and out of the Midwest, reduce truck traffic on congested highways, as well as create thousands of jobs that will directly or indirectly support the National Gateway. The company explained that the National Gateway will be comprised of the following: the building or expansion of several high-capacity, job-producing intermodal terminals where product shipments are exchanged between trucks and trains; and CSX collaborating with state and federal government agencies to create double-stack clearances beneath public overpasses along the railroad, which allow each train to carry roughly twice as many cargo boxes.
The National Gateway will focus on three existing rail corridors that run through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia: the I-70/I-76 Corridor between Washington, D.C. and northwest Ohio via Pittsburgh; the I-95 Corridor between North Carolina and Baltimore via Washington, D.C.; and the Carolina Corridor between Wilmington and Charlotte, North Carolina.
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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