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Transportation infrastructure: National Gateway receives award from the North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum

Logistics Management

The National Gateway, an $842 million public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure initiative designed to provide a highly efficient freight transportation link between the Mid-Atlantic ports and the Midwest, was recently honored as "Competitiveness Project of the Year" by the North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum (NASILF), an infrastructure identification and development organization.

The NASILF award, according to The National Gateway Council, was given to The National Gateway for being the project that contributes most to the North American region's capacity for global competitiveness.

The National Gateway was first unveiled by Class I railroad carrier CSX Corporation in May 2008. CSX and its affiliates have contributed $395 million in funding contributions to this effort to date, with states—including Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia—expected to contribute $189 million and another $258 million requested from the federal government.

When the project is completed, CSX officials said it will provide greater capacity for product shipments in and out of the Midwest, reduce truck traffic on congested highways, as well as create thousands of jobs that will directly or indirectly support the National Gateway. The company explained that the National Gateway will be comprised of the following: the building or expansion of several high-capacity, job-producing intermodal terminals where product shipments are exchanged between trucks and trains; and CSX collaborating with state and federal government agencies to create double-stack clearances beneath public overpasses along the railroad, which allow each train to carry roughly twice as many cargo boxes.

The National Gateway will focus on three existing rail corridors that run through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia: the I-70/I-76 Corridor between Washington, D.C. and northwest Ohio via Pittsburgh; the I-95 Corridor between North Carolina and Baltimore via Washington, D.C.; and the Carolina Corridor between Wilmington and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Officials at The National Gateway Council said that this project will "improve American competitiveness in global markets, create jobs, reduce transportation related emissions and alleviate congestion on roads and highways." They added that every dollar spent on the National Gateway returns $6 of public benefits by increasing freight capacity and reducing transit times between East and West Coast ports and major population centers by 24-48 hours.

A CSX executive said last year that this effort will highlight the effectiveness of intermodal transportation, in terms of economic and efficiency gains.

"Intermodal transportation combines the efficiency of rail with the flexibility of trucks," said CSX Intermodal President James Hertwig at the 2008 Transcomp event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "As our nation faces combined pressures from an increasingly globalized economy and deteriorating transportation infrastructure, it is critical that we work together to bolster this pillar of our national economy."

And industry analysts have told LM that the National Gateway, continues the model to bring in a wide variety of constituents to support efforts to add infrastructure capacity, as well as highlight how intermodal cooperation is critical both now and in the future to boost freight movement in the National Gateway's corridors.