Once the expansion is complete, the port will be able to handle increased freight rail capacity, helping businesses send more goods to markets across the country. It will also help position the port and the region as a freight transportation leader, attracting development and creating new jobs for those living in and around West Memphis.
The grant will improve railroad infrastructure at the International Rail Logistics Park. The project will increase railroad capacity within the facility, allow it to handle heavier rail carloads and extend a rail line that will facilitate construction of a new transload facility by a private party for the export of bulk commodities by rail and barge.
"Today's announcement is great news for those living, working or doing business in the Memphis region," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We are putting federal dollars to work, helping attract private development at the industrial park that will translate into new businesses and jobs in Memphis while supporting the president's goal to double exports by the end of 2014."
The Port of West Memphis currently handles approximately 7,500 tons a month, mostly by barge. In 2012, it handled 800 railcars for the year. When the project is complete in 2016, it will be able to handle 350 railcars a week.
"Expanding this intermodal center will not only create good jobs but it will help keep the local import and export economy vibrant, ensuring that the region remains a gateway for rail, inland marine, road and palletized air cargo shipments," said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo.
The improvements in the Port and the new transload facility will enable the greater Memphis region to diversify its intermodal freight transportation system by connecting western freight railroads with the Mississippi River for export and import cargo shipments of bulk commodities.