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.