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McKees Rocks to get $50 million rail/truck shipping facility

| Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 2:30 p.m.

A $50 million facility that CSX Corp. plans to build in McKees Rocks for handling rail and truck cargo will help grease the region's economy, lowering transportation costs for businesses and serving as a magnet for manufacturers looking to relocate to an area where getting raw materials or shipping products to market would be easier.

The intermodal facility for transferring cargo containers between rail cars and trucks will be built on 70 acres that once served as a maintenance yard for the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, CSX said on Thursday, with construction scheduled to start in 2015 and finish in two years.

The project will generate 360 construction jobs, 80 transportation jobs on site and an estimated 100 related jobs in the area, CSX estimated.

The site runs parallel to West Carson Street, or Route 51, for about one mile in McKees Rocks and Stowe. It will be the only intermodal facility between Cleveland and Chambersburg in central Pennsylvania.

“This will help retain manufacturing jobs in the region and help make us an even more desirable place for manufacturing companies because it gives us a cost advantage over other regions,” said Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who estimated the facility could cut company shipping costs by about 20 percent.

Neither CSX nor others involved in the project could quantify the full economic impact of the facility. Fitzgerald put it in “the multimillions.”

CSX owns the land involved, and government officials said the company is not receiving any incentives from Allegheny County or the state.

One of the potential beneficiaries is Lane Steel Co. Inc., a steel service center in McKees Rocks that processes flat-roll coils and sheet metal for end users all over the eastern United States. It buys raw materials from this region as well as from distant suppliers in the Midwest.

“It would save us money for the goods we buy from farther away because it would be very cost-competitive to receive it by rail,” said President Paul Gedeon.

CSX's 21,000-mile rail network connects to major markets throughout the eastern United States and links to about 240 short-line railroads and about 70 ocean, lake and river ports, giving customers access to markets across the country and around the globe, said CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan.

The facility also will provide retailers across the region with a more efficient means of receiving or shipping consumer products, said Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corp. His group is also behind the development of an adjacent industrial park expected to be shovel-ready for constructing buildings next spring.

“This intermodal facility is the biggest missing piece of a development puzzle that we have been assembling for over a decade,” said Vrcek, who has been trying to lure the CSX facility to McKees Rocks since 2003.

“Our bigger vision is to have the industrial park and the intermodal facility make this area a transportation hub,” he said.

The intermodal facility will be integrated with CSX's National Gateway project, an $850 million public-private partnership developing a double-stack rail corridor on CSX rails between the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.

The first phase of that corridor, which runs from Chambersburg to northwest Ohio, was completed in September, making double-stack rail transportation feasible.

Thomas Olson is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or tolson@tribweb.com.

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