DOT Nails Down CSX Gateway Grant Plan

DOT Nails Down CSX Gateway Grant Plan

After almost a year of negotiation, a new accord between the Department of Transportation and the Ohio Rail Development Commission clears the way for eastern railroad CSX Transportation to use a $98 million stimulus grant for stack train service.

The DOT awarded the money last February to the railroad's planned National Gateway intermodal corridor, where it would be spent raising clearances and making other improvements on CSX tracks in the Midwest and Northeast.

CSX is just months from opening a major new intermodal hub in Northwest Ohio near Toledo, and the grant will help fund track upgrades running from there across Ohio, and parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.

It is also another in a series of recent grant agreements in which the DOT is trying to formally obligate remaining stimulus money as quickly as possible.

Eventually, CSX wants the "L" shaped National Gateway to bring double-stack container trains up from North Carolina along the Eastern Seaboard to Baltimore, and from there head west to Ohio. The new hub opening in 2011 on the corridor's western edge will handle intermodal trains coming from the West Coast and skirting around Chicago's congested network to reach the CSX hub.

But a key was pinning down the grant implementing contract with Ohio. As a result, said the DOT, the project "will increase freight capacity and make the corridors a cost-effective option for major ports and shippers. This new project will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel usage, shorten transport times and expand access to rail services."

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez also said "This new initiative will give businesses a more competitive edge by giving them additional options for moving goods between the Midwest and our nation's ports along the East Coast."

The DOT also completed an agreement with Oklahoma's DOT to implement a $49.4 million stimulus grant to help rebuild a multi-use bridge over Interstate 244 at Tulsa. The revamped structure will be the first for that city to handle highway, rail, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

-- Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.