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Friday, August 14, 2009

Grant eyed to aid Pennsylvania's Crescent Corridor

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Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is trying to land $47 million in federal aid to upgrade Harrisburg rail freight facilities, the Harrisburg Patriot News reports. The money would help Norfolk Southern add a third unloading track and install additional parking spaces for trailers at the terminal along Industrial Road.


The proposed upgrades are related to other projects along the Crescent Corridor, which stretches from northern New Jersey to New Orleans. The goal is to shift as much freight traffic as possible from highways to railroads, said Rudy Husband, spokesman for Virginia-based Norfolk Southern.


Rendell said the total Crescent Corridor projects could create or enhance as many as 26,000 jobs. They also could save nearly 10 millions gallons of fuel per year, according to Norfolk Southern.


The total cost of the project is undetermined.


The Harrisburg facility, called an intermodal terminal, is a hub where truck trailers and shipping containers are transferred between trucks and trains. A train stacked two containers high carries as much freight as 280 trucks, Husband said. Each train emits only a fraction of the carbon dioxide and particulates that each truck does, he said.


Husband said there has recently been a change in the trucking industry. Trucking companies no longer want to do long-distance hauling, so they look for transport companies like Norfolk Southern to do the long hauls, allowing their drivers to do mainly local, shorter-distance driving.


"Investing in rail freight pays big dividends for our economy and the environment," Rendell said. "Moving freight off our highways eases congestion and saves pavement wear and tear."


The money for the Harrisburg terminal is part of $300-million Rendell is seeking from the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for rail improvement projects. The act includes a $1.5 billion transportation program for projects of regional or national significance.


Norfolk Southern is also building a $95-million intermodal terminal in Greencastle, Franklin County. Construction is expected to begin next year.

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