|Allison Smith from CSX
talks at the North Baltimore American Legion Hall. (Photo: Andrew Weber/Sentinel-Tribune)
NORTH BALTIMORE – Officials with the new CSX intermodal terminal can’t promise that North Baltimore will
see the opening of several popular chain restaurants any time soon, but they can share what happened
when Chambersburg, Pa., got a new facility.
Alison Smith opened and managed Chambersburg’s CSX intermodal terminal from 2007 until her transfer to
the new North Baltimore site. She briefly shared her experience with about 80 guests who attended
Wednesday’s annual dinner of the North Baltimore Chamber of Commerce.
Smith described the Chambersburg terminal as "vastly different" from the one just outside the
village, smaller in size, with fewer feet of working track. But its location was an advantage, tying
Pennsylvania to Maryland and Virginia. It also benefited from traffic along the Interstate 81 corridor.
Smith noted the amount of distribution space around the Chambersburg site was a "draw" for its
success. Today, there are 12 large distribution centers surrounding the four-year-old site.
"This is a possibility for us," she added. "I’m here, not to make promises for you. I’ll
tell you what could be. We’ll be able to provide a transportation (service) a lot of distribution
centers and retailers are looking for."
Smith chuckled that after CSX came to the city it got a road sign, but it also saw the arrival of an
Olive Garden and a Texas Roadhouse.
"That has an impact. Restaurants coming to town. Businesses coming to town. Big trucks break down.
You have to have a tow company that can tow big trucks. Tow companies came to town.
"Repair businesses. Service providers for drivers. They need fuel. They need food. Sometimes they
need a place to stay. I can’t promise you’ll get a Sonic or an Olive Garden, but the potential is
Rusty Orben, CSX’s director of public affairs out of Columbus, stressed the company markets to interested
outsiders all that the Northwest Ohio terminal means to them, including the maximum potential of
intermodal transportation services.
As the local site’s operations manager, Smith said its five 100-foot tall, electric cranes, which span
eight sets of track, are "pretty spectacular. You don’t see these anywhere else in the
Apart from the presentation Orben agreed, "There isn’t a facility like this in the country,"
and noted the five cranes make it "really unique." He added the site offers "limitless
opportunities for folks," along with a "straight shot to Asian markets. It’s huge."
CSX markets the terminal by pointing out to potential customers that it can reduce freight transportation
time, not only by bypassing Chicago, but even cutting one or two days from a schedule getting goods to
the West Coast. Also, instead of freight from Buffalo, N.Y., going to Chicago before heading to Florida,
it can now travel through the North Baltimore terminal on its way south.
"One thing we like to sell to our customers is improved service," Smith said. "Northwest
Ohio does that for us. Our competitors on the East Coast don’t have this, so we’re excited to tell them
Chamber President Kathy Healy said the CSX facility is not public, but people who want to see it can park
at the Northwestern Water & Sewer bulk water station and watch the cranes.
During a question-and-answer session it was noted CSX will host an Open House for the public, tentatively
Orben praised the village’s chamber for already "being way out in front" with local and
regional economic development. CSX’s goal is to promote the terminal to potential customers.
It is the work of local entities, such as the chamber; village government; Wood County’s port authority,
government and economic development offices; even the State Department of Development to advertise and
promote the region, drawing distribution centers and new businesses which will offer needed services –
Rex Huffman with the county’s port authority said the Liberty Hi overpass will be substantially completed
by June 7.
CSX’s Regional Superintendent Peter Craig said the local site originally forecast more than 200
employees. It now has 260 full-time employees, with more expected to be hired.