CSX Corporation Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward joined federal, state and local officials from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania on October 23, to mark the midway point of progress on the first phase of projects for the National Gateway.
The National Gateway is an $850-million public-private partnership launched in 2008 to alleviate freight bottlenecks in the Midwest that cause delays for companies and consumers shipping or receiving freight from west coast ports by creating a double-stack cleared corridor for intermodal rail shipments between the Midwest and the mid-Atlantic ports. Once completed, the National Gateway will help provide CSX customers with better access to competitive, environmentally-friendly double-stack intermodal freight rail service.
The celebration took place at Pittsburgh’s SouthSide Works, where the $13-million J&L Tunnel project will soon become the latest Phase One project to increase the vertical clearance on CSX rail lines to accommodate trains carrying double-stack intermodal containers. Phase One, creating double-stack rail access between CSX’s intermodal terminal in Northwest Ohio and its new modern intermodal terminal in Chambersburg, Pa., is scheduled to be completed by spring 2013 and will enable more freight to move through the region on the same number of trains.
The J&L Tunnel clearance project, an upgrade to a tunnel built in the 1880s that runs directly through the SouthSide Works complex, will help alleviate pressure on regional highways and lower the cost of doing business in the Pittsburgh region by improving access to intermodal freight shipping options.
The J&L Tunnel upgrade and other National Gateway projects are funded through contributions by CSX and the federal government, as well as a $35-million Pennsylvania Transportation Assistance Program (TAP) grant. The State of Ohio is also contributing $30 million to this first phase of clearance work.
“We are proud that we have been able to work with our partners in the federal and state government, communities and the private sector to invest in strategic transportation infrastructure that will alleviate highway congestion and enable our customers to better leverage rail, the most environmentally friendly way to ship goods over land,” said Ward.
As one of the nation’s largest transportation projects, National Gateway is expected to create more than 50,000 jobs over a 30-year period, including more than 9,000 jobs for Pennsylvania. When completed in 2015, to coincide with the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is expected to increase traffic through East Coast ports, the National Gateway is expected to provide more than $1.6 billion in public benefits to Pennsylvania in the route’s first 30 years of operations by decreasing fuel consumption, lowering emissions, improving safety, reducing highway maintenance costs and saving shipping costs.