CSX moves forward with National Gateway expansion plans
August 30, 2011 - LM Editorial
Class I rail carrier CSX recently announced it has invested $59 million in an intermodal terminal expansion in Columbus, Ohio, which is part of the company’s National Gateway initiative.
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 officials said the Columbus terminal will provide capacity “needed for anticipated growth in business and continue to enhance the economical and environmentally-friendly rail intermodal service offered to customers.”
They added it 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.
“CSX’s goal is to consistently provide the highest quality transportation service for our customers,” said Wilby Whitt, president of CSX Intermodal Terminals, in a statement. “We have a proud history of helping the Midwest thrive, and we believe this investment will help increase the benefits available in Central Ohio and beyond.”
In May, CSX announced it will make a $160 million investment over the next several years to help complete the National Gateway project.
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.
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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