Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NS Alabama intermodal facility opens

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Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley joined federal, state, and local officials and business leaders Wednesday in McCalla, Ala., to mark the opening of the Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility.

The $97.5 million, 316-acre facility is considered a critical component of NS's Crescent Corridor program to establish a high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast.

"There is no other intermodal rail public-private project today that compares with the magnitude of the Crescent Corridor in terms of job creation or environmental benefits," Moorman said. "Because of its strategic location and the growing intermodal demands throughout the country, the Birmingham terminal will serve as a major gateway for truck-competitive freight moving between the South and Northeast and enable NS to launch new service from Birmingham to the Northeast and to Mexico.

Said Governor Bentley, "Intermodal facilities often help attract distribution centers, manufacturing plants, and other industries. Having Norfolk Southern here will benefit the surrounding region by providing a catalyst for more new jobs."

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the announcement was especially timely because by the year 2020, it is expected that U.S. freight traffic will increase 100% and international trade will increase by 200 %. "The location of this intermodal center in Alabama by one of our premiere economic development partners gives the state a strategic logistics advantage to capitalize on these increases and promotes the goals of our economic development plan," he said.

The Birmingham terminal is the second of four new Crescent Corridor terminals to open. The Memphis facility began operations in July, and the Birmingham regional facility's sister terminal at Greencastle, Pa., is scheduled to open in January. Construction began earlier this year for a new terminal in Charlotte, N.C. In addition, significant expansions of two existing intermodal terminals in Harrisburg are under way.

NS says it constructed the main administrative building to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification standards. The facility also will use the latest in gate and terminal automation technology, which shortens the waiting time for trucks entering the terminal, and improves truck driver productivity and air quality. As well, state-of-the-art low emission cranes and hostler tractors will operate within the terminal.