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New rail terminal planned for region

| Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010

A new CSX Corp. rail terminal will be built in the Pittsburgh area as part of the National Corridor project, funded in part by federal stimulus money, officials said Wednesday.

The rail giant is working with regional economic development officials to determine the best location for the new terminal, said Bob Sullivan, spokesman for the nation's third-largest railroad.

"We're currently working with the state in getting the clearances done because you need those to make the project go," Sullivan said. Other details were unavailable.

The public-private $842 million corridor project will stretch from Ohio to Chambersburg, Franklin County, through West Virginia and Maryland. Stimulus money for the corridor, announced yesterday, includes $98 million for CSX to raise vertical clearances on tunnels and bridges, allowing trains to carry double-stacked containers filled with electronics, clothing and other consumer goods.

The stimulus act signed into law by President Obama a year ago has created or saved 84,000 jobs across Pennsylvania, according to administration estimates endorsed by a Harrisburg economic research center.

More job-creating projects generated by stimulus money could be announced today at Carnegie Mellon University when Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke visits the Gates Center for Computer Science to announce an initiative to improve broadband Internet access.

A year and a day after Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Locke will announce an initiative his office said "will help bridge the technological divide, boost economic development, create jobs and improve education and health care." Locke will be joined by Gov. Ed Rendell, Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Mike Doyle.

The President's Council of Economic Advisers estimates that 84,000 jobs were created or saved by the bill in Pennsylvania during 2009.

More than $12.5 billion in funds have been made available to the state, with more than $6 billion spent, the council found. Among the investments made statewide are 351 transportation projects, totaling nearly $1.4 billion, and 1,370 small business loans, supporting $498 million in lending.

"Our elected leaders took decisive steps one year ago today to shore up an economy in free fall like no other time since the Great Depression," said Stephen Herzenberg, an economist and executive director of the Keystone Research Center. "Absent that action, unemployment today could easily be 15 percent on its way to 20 percent."

On Saturday, Rendell announced $2.25 million in stimulus money would help boost broadband Internet coverage in the state.

On Tuesday, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger was in Ellwood City, Lawrence County, touting the benefits to the state of stimulus money.

Hanger visited Appalachian Lighting Systems Inc., a manufacturer of energy-saving light fixtures, which will add or keep four jobs because Ellwood City received $250,000 in stimulus money to purchase 250 energy-saving streetlights. The lights will save the borough $19,783 annually on energy costs.

"Creating jobs is precisely what the Recovery Act was intended to do," Hanger said.

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