CSX moves on expansion, without government dollars PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Saturday, 12 July 2014 01:22
The CSX Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal in North Baltimore. (Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune, File)
CSX is investing $43 million to expand its North Baltimore hub, which could be on track become one of the busiest rail centers in the country.
Company officials proposed the expansion last year but said it would require a federal grant to pay for half of the project.
The money didn't come, but CSX is expanding anyway to prepare for anticipated growth in the intermodal transportation industry, which involves moving containers by efficient means of combining rail, ground and shipping.
CSX proclaimed its North Baltimore site, opened in 2011, as the "cornerstone" of its larger National Gateway initiative to increase clearances allowing more double-stacked freight trains to move through the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.
Now the company will add more tracks and cranes to the North Baltimore site, eventually increasing its handling capacity by more than 50 percent. When the expansion is fully completed and in use, CSX's lift capacity at the hub could grow from the current 650,000 containers per year to more than one million.
"It's a long-term commitment," said Wilby Whitt, president of CSX Intermodal. "It will take years to fill that capacity, but the outlook for volume in North America for intermodal movements is quite robust."
Some terminals such as Evansville, Indiana, handle as few as 20,000 containers per year, while one of two near Chicago process around 850,000 each year, representing one of the three or four busiest facilities in North America, Whitt said.
"A one-million (container) lift capacity would put (North Baltimore) as one of the two largest intermodal facilities in North America, if not the world," he added.
The North Baltimore station currently employs more than 300 people and will add jobs over time as the expansion takes hold.
"We think it would take multiple years to fill that capacity, but you could assume some proportional increase" in jobs over time, Whitt said.
CSX is expanding services in its network across the country, but much of it traces back to the hub in southern Wood County.
"We are pleased to see CSX make an additional investment in Wood County and coupled with other recent projects (which) highlight that Wood County is truly the logistics hub of Northwest Ohio," said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of Wood County Economic Development. "The CSX facility will enable our regional businesses to take advantage of a lower import/export cost structure, which over the long run will make Northwest Ohio more competitive in the global economy."
Whitt said the opening of a new terminal in Quebec particularly boosted the need for North Baltimore to be able to handle more trains.
"That terminal will flow through Northwest Ohio," he said.
The project started this spring with the expansion of the shipping area and parking lots, which are expected to be completed during 2014. Two additional cranes for the facility will be delivered near the end of the year, with assembly and commissioning coming early in 2015.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 July 2014 02:41

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