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Transportation infrastructure: CSX launches National Gateway

Logistics Management

Rail carrier says $700 million PPP will provide efficient transportation link between Mid-Atlantic ports and Midwest

DUBLIN, Ohio-Earlier this month, Class I railroad carrier CSX Corporation unveiled its plans for the National Gateway, a $700 million public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure initiative that it said will provide a highly efficient transportation link between the Mid-Atlantic ports and the Midwest. The railroad carrier has committed $300 million* to the National Gateway and plans to work with various states and the federal government for the remaining funding needed.

CSX said that when the National Gateway is completed, 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, according to a company statement.

The announcement introducing the National Gateway was made at the offices of CSX customer, Pacer International, a provider of freight transportation and logistics services with a major presence in the intermodal transportation marketplace. Anthony B. Hatch, principal of ABH Consulting in New York, told LM that the National Gateway, continues the model to bring in a wide variety of constituents to support efforts to add infrastructure capacity and plan for a future where rails will take a greater role.

"What's striking to me is that not only is this an interesting public-private partnership but that by announcing at Pacer's HQ it clearly demonstrates the intermodal (ship-truck-rail) cooperation that will be critical today and even more so in the future to make these corridors (and really, freight movement in an increasingly congested world) work," said Hatch. "CSX is spending for the future, even in a freight recession, and as an analyst who believes in the "rail renaissance" I find that highly encouraging."

CSX said that 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.

Similar in scope: The National Gateway in some ways-most notably creating double-stacked clearances-is similar to Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor, which runs between the port of Hampton Roads, Virginia and Chicago. NS began working on the Heartland Corridor last November. It is expected to be completed in 2010 and is expected to increase capacity by raising vertical clearances in 28 tunnels along the Heartland Corridor.