American Railroads

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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

‘Heartland Corridor’

gets federal nod

The States of Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia, Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) at the USDOT announced today that the three states and Norfolk Southern Ry. Co., have entered into a “Memoranda of Agreement” with FHWA that govern the release of $95 million in federal funding for the Heartland Corridor rail double-stack clearance project.
The Heartland Corridor will enable double-stacked international maritime and domestic containers to be transported by rail between the Hampton Roads region of Virginia and locations in the Midwest by raising tunnel clearances and modifying other overhead obstructions in western Virginia, West Virginia, and through to Columbus, Ohio.
Through mutual agreement among all the parties, FHWA’s Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division will serve as project leader.
The Heartland Corridor Project is a public-private partnership whose purpose is to expand capacity, improve service consistency and reduce customer availability times by up to one day for intermodal traffic between the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest, providing opportunities for economic development in all three affected states, as well as benefits to the nation overall. The Heartland Corridor was designated as a “Project of National and Regional Significance” under the recently enacted “SAFETEA-LU” legislation. Improvements in the efficient movement of international and domestic containers will be achieved under Heartland via rail, providing an effective alternative to over-the-road movement of freight.
With all of the funding agreements in place, the parties to the agreements can now move to complete the engineering and environmental studies required, with the goal of beginning construction of the project soon thereafter. The parties expect the clearance construction to be completed by the end of 2009.
“This is an important public-private partnership that will result in significant public benefits, including increased access for the Port of Virginia and increased movement of freight by rail as opposed to on the highways,” said Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (R).
“I’m pleased with the multi-state and federal partnership that has enabled this project to advance.”
“Harnessing the strength of the Port of Huntington Tri-State, which ranks as the seventh largest port and the largest inland river port in the U.S., with the Port of Virginia and Port of Columbus, creates a 1,100-mile corridor of unprecedented economic opportunity,” said West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (R).
“Bringing both the public and private sectors together proves that not one, but three states have a greater capacity for potential economic development. The Heartland Corridor presents another opening for business opportunity for West Virginia to participate in the global market place.”
“This is an important step to address the critical and growing need to increase the capacity for our rail systems to move freight, especially at a time when so much of it is moving by container between our nation and international markets,” said Ohio Rail Development Commission Executive Director James Seney.
“Coupled with the Rickenbacker Intermodal Hub now being built near Columbus, getting the Heartland Corridor Project underway will increase efficiencies for shippers and further strengthen our region's strategic importance in the global economy.”
“This project is a prime example of how a public-private partnership can result in major benefit to the economy,” said NS CEO Wick Moorman.
“The expanded rail capacity and improved transit times between Hampton Roads and the Midwest will stimulate economic growth throughout the region and enhance the nation’s ability to compete for international trade.”
“Transportation will play a huge role in our nation’s ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace – five, ten, fifty years into the future,” said Federal Highway Administrator J. Richard Capka.
“This transportation improvement provides an efficient alternative to over-the-road freight movement and promises to reduce congestion.”

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