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Pennsylvania, four other states seek $300 million to improve rail lines

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Pennsylvania and four other states are seeking stimulus money to make upgrades to their rail systems, including the proposed intermodal terminal in Greencastle, the Chambersburg Public Opinion Website reports. Pennsylvania was a co-signer of an application for $300 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, according to PennDOT spokesperson Rich Kirkpatrick.

If approved, the money
would be used to make improvements to the rail system along Norfolk Southern’s
Crescent Corridor, which stretches from the Gulf Cost to the Northeast.

Company spokesperson Rudy
Husband said in Pennsylvania that includes the proposed intermodal yard in
Antrim Township, expansions to an intermodal facility in Harrisburg and other
track and signal improvements throughout Pennsylvania.

The I-81 Corridor Coalition
is supporting the request for stimulus money.

"The Crescent Corridor
extends past the end of I-81, however, for several hundred miles, the core line
does parallel I-81, hence our interest in seeking the funds," said Rick
Rovegno, coalition member and Cumberland County commissioner. "If that
additional freight rail capacity is realized, the through freight that would be
able to be placed on rail would be equivalent to several thousand
tractor-trailers daily."

Commercial freight volumes
are expected to nearly double by 2035.

Norfolk Southern estimates
that the upgrades to 2,500 miles of track along the Crescent Corridor could
divert more than one million trucks annually to rail. In Pennsylvania, the
company estimates that about 690,000 trucks would be taken off the highways.

"I feel that
transportation and the related impact is as great a concern as any issue that’s
before us in the Cumberland Valley," Rovegno said.

Pennsylvania joined
Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia in applying for the stimulus
money. Kirkpatrick said the $300 million, if approved, would add to $500
million coming from Norfolk Southern and other state partners to make
improvements to the rail system.

On Nov. 2, Gov. Ed Rendell
and Norfolk Southern announced $11 million in improvements to the Philadelphia
Navy Yard Intermodal Facility.

The $5 million in state
funding is included in a $45-million commitment Rendell made on Aug. 12, when
construction of a new intermodal facility in Greencastle was announced. The
state allocation, over three years, will be joined by Norfolk Southern’s $79
million and an anticipated $61 million in federal support.

Norfolk Southern said in
addition to the $95 million rail yard near Greencastle, it plans $52 million in
improvements for its existing Harrisburg intermodal terminal, along with $27
million in track and signal upgrades in Berks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin,
Franklin, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties.

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