Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baltimore, CSX eye near-dock intermodal site

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Mount Clare train yard in southwestern Baltimore would be the site of a $90 million, near-dock intermodal yard designed to aid traffic flow through the Port of Baltimore. CSX Transportation would operate the facility.

The yard's biggest value likely would be increasing CSX's ability to avoid routing all of its trains through the city's Howard Street Tunnel, with clearances too low to allow double-stack intermodal transport; the tunnel has been a contentious political issue in Baltimore for some time.

Mount Clare, south of Interstate Highway 95 near Washington Boulevard, is one of four sites that were considered by city officials, and while relatively small in size at just under 70 acres has been deemed by CSX to be adequate for the port's growing intermodal and rail traffic. CSX also reportedly held that the other existing sites were required as is to handle CSX's current train operations.

CSX says transfer station would be a state-of-the-art intermodal facility that would become the first in any East Coast port city to use zero-emissions electric crane technology. "As we do in every intermodal terminal development project, CSX has assured the state and city that we will engage the public and, to the best of our ability, address any concerns," CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan told local media.

Containers from the port destined for the Midwest would be delivered from the Seagirt Marine Terminal either via truck or or single-level trains still using the Howard Street Tunnel. They then would be transferred onto double-stacked trains. Containers destined for the port for overseas shipping would also be handled.

Funding would be provided by the state of Maryland and by CSX, with no federal funding envisioned at present, allowing the state to proceed outside the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, which governs projects financed with federal dollars.