CSX plans intermodal terminal

| Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Railroad giant CSX Corp. plans to build an intermodal terminal and make numerous rail corridor improvements in Western Pennsylvania to carry additional freight -- moves it says could mean hundreds of new jobs.

The regional improvements are part of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad's National Gateway project, which includes major renovations along three corridors, including the Interstate 76/Interstate 70 corridor from Washington, D.C., through Western Pennsylvania and into Northwest Ohio.

The other corridors run along Interstate 95 between North Carolina and Baltimore via Washington, and between Wilmington, N.C., and Charlotte.

The company didn't give job projections or say where the intermodal terminal would be built, and spokesman Bob Sullivan could not be reached for comment.

An intermodal terminal allows freight to be easily transferred between trucks and rail cars. Norfolk Southern Corp. operates one in Pitcairn. Canadian National Railway, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway and Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad operate one in East Huntingdon, Westmoreland County.

"The nation is becoming more and more aware of the tremendous safety, economic and environmental benefits that railroads create," said CSX Chairman and CEO Michael J. Ward. "Our trains can carry a ton of freight 423 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel, and one train can carry the load of more than 280 trucks."

CSX already has a major rail presence in Pennsylvania, operating and maintaining 1,100 miles of track, annually handling 160,000 carloads of freight and employing more than 1,000 residents.

Major rail yards are located in McKeesport, Connellsville and New Castle, , with repair shops in Connellsville, Pittsburgh and New Castle, and rail-to-truck transloading facilities in Pittsburgh and Butler.

CSX has set aside $300 million for the National Gateway project and is looking to develop partnerships with states and the federal government to garner additional funding.

"We are aware of the CSX project, we've had some very preliminary discussions, but no decisions have been made," said state Department of Transportation spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick added he believes CSX is looking for about $35 million from the state.

The National Gateway project is designed to create what CSX calls "a highly efficient freight transportation link between the Mid-Atlantic ports and the Midwest."

The rail giant would construct or expand several intermodal terminals and would work with state and federal governments to create double-stack clearances beneath overpasses along the rail corridors.

Double-stacking allows CSX to carry roughly twice the number of cargo boxes. Many overpasses only allow clearance for a single box.

The U.S. Department of Transportation forecasts that by 2020, overall freight tonnage hauled in America will grow by 70 percent from 1998 levels.

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