Wednesday, December 23, 2009

National Gateway addresses need for infrastructure improvements

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According to government forecasts, freight volumes in the United States will significantly increase by 2020. Unless major transportation infrastructure improvements are made, this could lead to reduced productivity resulting in job losses, higher prices for the goods we buy and reduced worldwide demand for the goods we sell. The National Gateway - an $842-million multi-state public-private infrastructure initiative - will help meet current infrastructure needs and prepare the nation for this projected growth by investing in surface transportation infrastructure improvements.

"The surface transportation system now in place doesn't address freight needs adequately," said Jean Godwin, executive vice president, American Association of Port Authorities. "Changes are needed to decrease road congestion due to freight movement that will result in reduced fuel use, pollution and transportation costs. Transportation improvements in and around seaports and throughout the country that enhance freight mobility will positively impact America's immediate and long-term job growth, prosperity, the environment and livability."

The National Gateway will upgrade tracks, equipment and facilities to provide clearance for double stack intermodal trains. Double-stack trains carry more cargo and are more efficient than single stack trains. The project increases freight rail capacity by allowing double stack trains to move freely between East Coast ports and Midwest markets.

"The National Gateway will vastly improve the flow of traffic between crucial Midwest manufacturing and consumption centers and East Coast population centers and international sea ports," said Louis Renjel, vice president of strategic infrastructure initiatives, CSX Transportation. "This project allows shippers to deliver more freight on fewer trains, increasing efficiency while reducing rail and highway congestion."

To date, the project has received $395 million in funding commitments from freight transportation company CSX Corporation and its affiliates. States involved in the project are expected to fund $189 million, with an additional $258 million requested from the federal government.

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