CSX project talks on tap
Residents will have an opportunity to learn more about CSX Transportation's National Gateway Clearance Project during an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Quality Inn in Harpers Ferry.
The multi-state project is to enlarge - and thus increase the clearance - of tunnels and underpasses to accommodate trailers or containers stacked two high on rail cars. The practice is called double-stacking and allows trains to haul more freight.
The local portion of the project impacts the Graham Tunnel at Magnolia in Morgan County, Harpers Ferry Tunnel at Sandy Hook, Md., Catoctin Tunnel at Catoctin, Md., and Point-of-Rocks Tunnel at Point of Rocks, Md.
"We see a lot of benefit and fundamentally support it," said Patrick Donovan, executive director, West Virginia Public Port Authority, which has been working with CSX on the project.
According to the National Gateway Clearance Project Web site, the total cost of the project is $842 million and is funded through a private-public partnership between CSX, based in Jacksonville, Fla., along with state governments and the federal government.
The Web site, at www.nationalgateway.org, states that CSX and its affiliates have committed $395 million to the project; the states are expected to contribute $189 million; and the federal government has been requested to put in $258 million.
Donovan said West Virginia's share would be $5 million, which has been requested by CSX, but the state has not made any financial commitment to the project so far. The total cost of the West Virginia portion is $62 million, he said.
The local portion is part of the Interstate 70/Interstate 76 Corridor Clearance Project, which runs between Washington and northwest Ohio via Pittsburgh, and includes upgrading tracks in addition to increasing the clearance of tunnels and underpasses.
The project also includes the construction of a new intermodal terminal near Pittsburgh.
CSX officials and rail proponents say the project will reduce long-haul truck traffic on the highways, reducing shipping costs and transit times; pollution, such as ground-level ozone; and fuel consumption.
The I-70/I-76 corridor connects with the Interstate 95 Corridor between Baltimore and North Carolina and the Carolina Corridor between Wilmington and Charlotte, N.C.
Norfolk Southern railroad has a similar project planned for its Crescent Corridor between New Orleans and New Jersey, which runs through Jefferson County, and is expected to relieve truck traffic on Interstate 81 and other local highways.
Norfolk Southern completed the Heartland Corridor Project through southern West Virginia. It "enables double-stacked international maritime and domestic containers to be transported by rail between the Hampton Roads region of Virginia and locations in the Midwest by raising tunnel clearances and modifying other overhead obstructions in western Virginia, West Virginia and through to Columbus, Ohio," according to the Norfolk Southern Web site.
A spokesman for CSX was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
Learn more about National Gateway clearance projects at Graham Tunnel (Magnolia, MD), Harpers Ferry Tunnel (Sandy Hook, MD), Catoctin Tunnel (Catoctin, MD) and Point of Rocks Tunnel (Point of Rocks, MD).