Norfolk Southern Railway’s new Charlotte, N.C., intermodal terminal began handling shipments Monday, boosting the railroad’s ability to attract highway loads to its major corridor connecting the mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast.
The $92 million terminal at Charlotte Douglas International Airport is still under construction, but NS has already begun transitioning freight handling there from the older downtown facility. NS has not yet set a date for the official opening of the Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility, said company spokesman Robin Chapman.
The new 40-acre terminal has an annual lift capacity of 200,000 units, compared to the 130,000-unit lift capacity at the older facility. The new terminal has been more than 15 years in the making, and current U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has been credited for helping to make the project a reality while he was mayor of Charlotte.
The terminal is part of the Crescent Corridor, a 2,500-mile corridor aimed at providing truck-like intermodal service to shippers looking to reduce transportation costs and carbon emissions. NS has already spent more than $715 million on the public-private project that will ultimately cost about $2.5 billion. In the last year NS has opened new intermodal terminals on the corridor in Memphis, Tenn.; Birmingham Ala.; and Greencastle, Pa. The railroad launched 34 new intermodal services on the corridor in January.
The eastern domestic intermodal market, along with the U.S-Mexico cross-border market, is expected to see the most volume growth in 2014, as network investments made by NS and its archrival, CSX Transportation, continue to pay off. NS said there are about 1 million truckloads annually that could be shifted to the initial phase of the Crescent Corridor. The railroad hasn’t yet outlined what investments would be made in the second phase of the initiative.