Patrick Donovan started
talking about Prichard, W.Va., a long time ago, he said, according to The
Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, W. Va. He foresaw a center of activity for
transporting goods, a place where trains carrying double-stacked containers
could drop off goods and where barges along the Big Sandy River, planes from
Tri-State Airport and trucks along the Tolsia Highway could pick them up.
He wanted it to be a stop
along the planned Heartland Corridor -- a project that involves improvements in
Norfolk-Southern railways between the Virginia coast and Columbus, Ohio, so
trains can carry more goods in a more direct route. When finished, 28 tunnels will
be raised so that trains can carry double-stacked containers. The
public-private partnership also will include construction of three intermodal
facilities for easier transfer of containers between rail, roadways, rivers and
airways -- at Prichard, as well as Roanoke, Va., and Columbus.
While efforts to raise
tunnels along the Heartland Corridor Project are moving right along, it's been
a slow process to get preliminary work done on an intermodal facility in
Prichard. The West Virginia Public Port Authority went through a lengthy
process to hire an engineering firm to do an environmental study on the land
along the Big Sandy River, where it will sit. The study determines if the
project is compliant with the National Environmental Protection Act. It looks at
archaeological and flood concerns, stream restorations and wetland issues.
Baker Engineering of
Cross Lanes was hired in February for that project, and while the results of
the study are promising, Donovan said, the Port Authority still awaits approval
from the West Virginia Historic Preservation Office. When it finally becomes a
reality, it is expected to be an economic boon for the entire region, as
companies set up warehouses and other related businesses along the route, said
Donovan and Don Perdue, executive director of Wayne County Economic Development
While the Port Authority,
as well as local government and Norfolk Southern await that approval for the
environmental study, they're also waiting for news about a new grant for which
they've applied. They teamed up to apply for $50 million in federal stimulus
funding. Nationally, $1.5 billion is up for grabs through the Transportation
Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants Program.
If approved, $30 million in TIGER funds would go toward the Prichard intermodal
facility, and $20 million would go toward the tunnel work.
Donovan said he's
encouraged by what's in the outline describing projects that would qualify for
the grant money.
Receiving those funds
would free up more upfront money for the project. As of now, Senate Bill 569,
approved by the General Assembly in 2007, provides $4.3 million per fiscal year
through 2016 for the Heartland Corridor. The first fiscal year, $2.15 million
was allotted, but the following years, the full $4.3 million will be provided.
Norfolk Southern has already put $49.5 million of its own money into the tunnel
clearance project, with a $90 million match in federal funds. The tunnel
clearance project is estimated at $151 million, Norfolk Southern says.
Norfolk Southern has
donated 78 acres to the West Virginia Public Port Authority for the intermodal
facility at Prichard, and the authority already has 20-plus acres. The railroad
company would take care of hiring a company to design the facility, and it's
undetermined right now who would operate it. Norfolk-Southern might contract
out an operator, but would be involved in selection of the operator either way,
"Ideally, by late
spring or early summer, I want to have some dirt moving. I really do," he
Meanwhile, all kinds of
earth is moving as workers continue to heighten tunnels along the railway.
working on the last five tunnels," said Robin Chapman, spokesman for
Norfolk-Southern. "One of them is called the Cooper Tunnel, not far from
Bluefield. The other four are from Williamson and west of there on the Big
Sandy River. We anticipate finishing in mid 2010."
Workers increase the
clearance for double-stacked trains by either lowering the track, when
possible, or carving away rock in the tunnel.
In preparation for the
work, crews test drill into the rock to determine the density they're dealing
with, and make sure there are no voids behind it. Then they install rock bolts
to stabilize the roof. Meanwhile, trains need passage, so crews usually begin
work in the wee hours of the morning so they can remove rock and spray a layer
of concrete over the work area as a sealant before trains come through in the
As Prichard and
southwestern West Virginia get ready for Norfolk Southern Corp.'s
double-stacked trains to move through, the eastern part of the state is looking
forward to a project by CSX Transportation. The rail company also is planning
to embark on a project to raise tunnels to accommodate double-stack trains
through the Mid-Atlantic region.
The $842-million National
Gateway project would affect Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West
Virginia, and is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trucks on the
highway, as well as saving $3.5 billion in shipper and logistics costs,
significantly increase freight capacity, reduce transit times between West
Coast ports and major population and triple the market access potential for
some ports on the East Coast.
There's a prediction that
freight transportation is going to increase by 70 percent over the next 20
years, said CSXT spokesman Bob Sullivan. Moving it to rail rather than trucks
will reduce greenhouse emissions, he said.
The path of the double-stacked
trains would stretch from Wilmington, N.C., up the East Coast and northeastward
through the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Along the National Gateway,
the nearest intermodal distribution facility to West Virginia will be in
CSXT is committing $395
million to the National Gateway project, and it's asking for $258 million in
federal stimulus grants through the TIGER Discretionary Grants Program. States
are being asked for $250 million.
About $60 million will be
spent in West Virginia, to clear six tunnels in the state. But West Virginia is
being asked to contribute $5 million to the project, Sullivan said.
Gold Line Eastside Extension in Los Angeles, a major Balfour Beatty Rail, Inc.
project, marked the beginning of its light rail service with a grand opening ceremony
Nov. 15 at the extension's Civic Station.
It took nearly 13 years,
$320 million and a few major derailments, but the Northstar commuter rail line
made its initial run this morning, moving full speed ahead out of Big Lake at 5
a.m., the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Avoiding congestion along Hwy. 10
in Sherburne and Anoka Counties, the sparkling blue, gold and white cars with
red trim left Big Lake for the new Target Field station in Minneapolis, with
45-second stops along the way in Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley.
Some people like the
haunted train station look -- the boarded-up windows at the Metra stop at 115th
Street, or the eerie yellow light shining on the plywood fencing at Cicero, the
Chicago Sun-Times reports. Metra, however, is assuming that most riders prefer
stations that don't look as if they're about to fall on their heads. So the
commuter rail service is doing rehabs on 27 stations in the area.
Cortlandt, N.Y., Town
Supervisor Linda Puglisi, MTA Metro-North President Howard Permut and local and
state officials held a ground breaking ceremony today to mark the start of
construction at the Cortlandt Station for expanded station facilities including
an extended overpass and new elevated waiting area, a new western parking lot
and an access road connecting to a new Route 9A intersection.
accessibility, better use of platform space and more natural light are features
of the newly upgraded Commercial-Broadway Station on Vancouver's SkyTrain.
petroleum-contaminated sediment in Montana's Whitefish River is on schedule and
so far has yielded "no big surprises," a federal spokesman said, according to The
Daily Inter Lake. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing BNSF's
efforts to remove roughly 36,000 cubic feet of oily sludge from a 500-foot-long
stretch in the river's upper reach, upstream of the Second Street bridge to the
northern boundary of the railroad fueling facility. About 100 feet have been
excavated to date, to a depth of plus or minus one foot, EPA spokesman Jennifer
Workers will begin
repairing train tracks this week after damage from September floods put a major
kink in transportation lines in Walker and Chattooga counties in Georgia,
according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. While crews began repairing
roads and buildings shortly after the waters receded, the rail line between
LaFayette and Summerville remains unusable, according to railway officials. In
spots, the heavy wooden ties hang over a foot or more of space where the ground
has washed out beneath them.
Portec Rail Products,
Inc., was recently named to the Forbes magazine listing of the 200 Best Small Companies. Forbes states that candidates must have annual revenue
between $5 million and $750 million, be publicly-traded for at least one year
and have a stock price no lower than $5. Rankings are based on earnings growth,
sales growth and return on equity in the past 12 months and over the last five
Work on Caltrain's Grade
Crossing Improvement Program, which will enhance safety at 25 grade crossings
in San Mateo County, continues in Menlo Park and Atherton. Work will take place
Nov. 15-19 between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. at Fair Oaks Lane and Watkins
Avenue in Atherton and Encinal, Ravenswood and Oak Grove avenues in Menlo Park.
Throughout the project area, at least one lane of the impacted street will
remain open. Flagmen will direct traffic and pedestrians around the