More than $842 million in public and private sector funds have been committed to projects that will improve existing, and build new, rail infrastructure and intermodal capacities across six states.
These funds have been made available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program to help states and municipalities fund necessary projects that might otherwise remain unfunded. Each of the projects is expected to stimulate job growth, improve efficiency in the flow of goods through increased intermodal capacity, reduce fuel costs and emissions, and enhance local economies.
Ohio has submitted nine TIGER Grant applications, seeking $588 million in funding.
These major projects in six states are collectively known as the National Gateway. Projects on the board are in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. They are designed to increase intermodal container traffic between ports in major markets in the east, and together with a large new CSX Railway terminal in northwest Ohio, between the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions and the West Coast.
The National Gateway was launched in May 2008. To fund projects, a public-private consortium has been formed between state and local governments, port authorities, global shippers, ocean carriers, business organizations and environmental groups, and CSX and its subsidiaries and affiliates; CSX Transportation, CSX Intermodal and the Evansville Western Railway (CSX). Legislative approvals are not required for National Gateway-funded projects.
According to an announcement made by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, the National Gateway has unprecedented support from a large coalition of public and private sector leaders including governors and other state and local officials across six states, and more than three dozen members of Congress.
Ground breaking took place earlier this summer for the long-awaited Jones Road/CSX Rail Grade Separation in the city of Fostoria, in Seneca County in northwest Ohio, funded in part by the National Gateway consortium. The bid of $6 million has been awarded to Miller Brothers Construction of Archibold, Ohio. Final cost estimate is $7 million, according to Theresa Pollick, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) public information officer, district two.
The ceremony commemorated “the start of construction on this long-awaited project. The groundbreaking represents years of planning and a dedicated partnership between ODOT, the city of Fostoria and Seneca county. The newly built bridge over the CSX line will allow truck and passenger traffic to move efficiently through one of the busiest industrial areas in the city of Fostoria,” said District Two Deputy Director David R. Dysard.
“The majority of industrial activity in Fostoria is centered near Jones Road and the CSX line. Fostoria is a community with three major rail lines crossing at different angles and different locations. This creates a problem where railroad traffic blocks vehicular traffic in various locations,” said Pollick.
“Trains often stop, slow, or yield to other trains crossing the lines. Additionally, a new ethanol facility has increased grain truck traffic in the area,” said Pollick. The three rail lines form ’Iron Triangles’ around Fostoria’s industrial areas. This project had been put on hold—twice—for lack of funding.
The rail infrastructure and intermodal terminal projects under the National Gateway are along three major corridors: I-95/I-81 in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland; I-70/I-76/I-80 between Washington, D.C. and northwest Ohio; and the I-40/Carolina Corridor between Charlotte and Wilmington, according to the TIGER application filed jointly by the governors of the states involved.
Sixty-one vertical clearances in six states and the District of Columbia will be modified to allow for doublestack intermodal trains. Freight transportation will link the Mid-Atlantic ports in Baltimore and Hampton in Ohio, and in Maryland. Ohio has designated $20 million in ARRA funds for clearances.
“In this time of economic uncertainty, we must take full advantage of these public/private investments in infrastructure to stimulate our economy and deliver high-paying jobs … The double-stack clearances and density that the National Gateway allows will drastically expand North Carolina and the Port of Wilmington’s market access potential,” said James W. Crawford, Jr., North Carolina Representative, 32nd district.
A new state-of-the-art facility in northwest Ohio will enable rail traffic to flow more efficiently through Chicago, reduce transit time by 24 to 48 hours, and complement other terminals being constructed or expanded as part of this initiative in Pennsylvania and Baltimore/Washington, D.C., according to the grant application. Groundbreaking for the northwest Ohio terminal took place in August 2009. Completion is expected in early 2011. In Ohio, CSX has committed more than $175 million toward development of intermodal terminals.
“It’s good for the economy. It’s good for the environment. It makes us less dependent on those foreign suppliers for our energy needs. It will create jobs, and there will be an expansion of jobs surrounding this facility,” said Strickland.
The state of Ohio served as the primary sponsor for the grant application and acted on behalf of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state of Maryland, the state of West Virginia, and the commonwealth of Virginia. A joint resolution from Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, accompanied the application.
National and international aspects include improved economic competitiveness of the states and ports of the United States in handling the demand for future freight movement when the Panama Canal widening project is completed in 2014.
When completed, the National Gateway will be privately owned and maintained, requiring no further funds from the public-private partnership. TIGER funds have been requested for $258 million. CSX and state funding will provide 70 per cent of the remaining, with the remainder coming from other members of the consortium.
Of this the six states have committed more than $150 million and are expected to contribute a total of $189 million (20%). CSX will invest a total of $395 million (47%), and has already invested more than $70 million, of which more than $4 million was expended for environmental analysis and preliminary engineering. These preliminary costs were to ensure double-stack clearance is achieved by 2012.
Costs per state for National Gateway projects:
• Ohio—$235 million
• Pennsylvania — $170 million
• Maryland — $192 million
• West Virginia — $41 million
• Virginia — $26 million
• District of Columbia — $172 million
• North Carolina — $6 million
The National Gateway is expected to nearly double intermodal capacity on the selected rail corridors without increasing noise, emissions, or the number of trains, according to the application. Benefits to the individual states and communities include increased tax collection, more reliable rail service, higher value jobs, safer and less congested roadways, and reduced fuel usage and emissions. Benefits to shippers will include reduced transport times, improved service reliability, and lower transportation expenses.
One of the major changes expected as the National Gateway is completed is the shift from long-haul freight shipments via truck to rail/intermodal. This change is being counted on to reduce shipping costs, which in turn, should decrease the cost of goods to the consumer.
The long-term outlook as outlined in the application:
• $2.2 billion in shipper cost savings for existing rail customers
• $150 million in logistics savings
• $1.2 billion in shipper cost savings for truck-to-rail conversion
• 20 million ton reduction in greenhouse gases
• 2 billion gallon reduction in fuel use
• 7,000 ton reduction in oxides of nitrogen
• 1,000 ton reduction in particulate matter
• Accident cost savings (vs. public roadway) usage at $900 million
• Less highway construction, repairs, and maintenance due to a decrease of 14.3 billion fewer truck miles, a cost savings estimated to be $80 million in Ohio alone.
The above considers that long-haul semi-truck transport will be reduced, but job creation is expected for the shorter and potentially intra-state, rather than inter-state transporting of goods, utilizing the truck to rail terminal mode.
Studies of railroads have measured the improved locomotive fuel efficiency to be 80% since 1980, estimating that one ton of goods transported by rail can be moved 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel. They have further estimated that one train can carry the load of 280 trucks, making rail transport the most cost efficient component of an intermodal system.
“By investing in a more efficient freight rail network for our country, the National Gateway can, in a very meaningful way, help address serious concerns about the economy, U.S. competitiveness, congestion, highway safety and maintenance, global warming, clean air and energy efficiency,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
“When we have alternative intermodal options of transportation that make it more attractive to locate in a given area and state, it’s a tremendous economic development generator,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell.
“The National Gateway proposal builds upon Virginia’s efforts to improve our surface transportation system with the best solution that addresses congestion, protects our climate, promotes transportation safety, and creates economic growth today and into the future,” said Virginia Gov. Tim M. Kaine.
For more information about the National Gateway go to www.nationalgateway.org.
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