The States of Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia, Norfolk Southern
Corporation, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)at the U.S.
Department of Transportation announced on 9 September 2006 that the
three states and Norfolk Southerns operating subsidiary, Norfolk
Southern Railway Company, have entered into Memoranda of Agreement
with FHWA that govern the release of $95 million in federal funding
for the Heartland Corridor rail double-stack clearance project.
The Heartland Corridor will enable 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.
Through mutual agreement among all the parties, FHWAs Eastern
Federal Lands Highway Division will serve as project leader.
The Heartland Corridor Project is a public-private partnership whose
purpose is to expand capacity, improve service consistency and reduce
customer availability times by up to one day for intermodal traffic
between the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest, providing opportunities
for economic development in all three affected states, as well as
benefits to the nation overall. The Heartland Corridor was designated
as a Project of National and Regional Significance under the recently
enacted SAFETEA LU legislation. Improvements in the efficient
movement of international and domestic containers will be achieved
under Heartland via rail, providing an effective alternative to over-the-road
movement of freight.
With all of the funding agreements in place, the parties to the agreements
can now move to complete the engineering and environmental studies
required, with the goal of beginning construction of the project soon
thereafter. The parties expect the clearance construction to
be completed by the end of 2009.This is an important public-private
partnership that will result in significant public benefits, including
increased access for the Port of Virginia and increased movement of
freight by rail as opposed to on the highways, said Virginia
Governor Tim Kaine. Im pleased with the multistate
and federal partnership that has enabled this project to advance.
Harnessing the strength of the Port of Huntington Tri-State, which
ranks as the seventh largest port and the largest inland river port
in the United States, with the Port of Virginia and Port of Columbus
creates an 1100-mile corridor of unprecedented economic opportunity,
said West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin. Bringing both the public
and private sectors together proves that not one, but three states
have a greater capacity for potential economic development.
The Heartland Corridor presents another opening for business opportunity
for West Virginia to participate in the global market place. This
is an important step to address the critical and growing need to increase
the capacity for our rail systems to move freight, especially at a
time when so much of it is moving by container between our nation
and international markets, said Ohio Rail Development Commission
Executive Director James Seney. Coupled with the Rickenbacker
Intermodal Hub now being built near Columbus, getting the Heartland
Corridor Project underway will increase efficiencies for shippers
and further strengthen our region's strategic importance in the global
economy. This project is a prime example of how a public-private partnership
can result in major benefit to the economy, said Norfolk Southern
CEO Wick Moorman. The expanded rail capacity and improved transit
times between Hampton Roads and the Midwest will stimulate economic
growth throughout the region and enhance the nations ability
to compete for international trade. Transportation will play a huge
role in our nations ability to remain competitive in the global
marketplacefive, ten, fifty years into the future, said
Federal Highway Administrator J. Richard Capka. This transportation
improvement provides an efficient alternative to over-the-road freight
movement and promises to reduce congestion.