COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A new round of federal stimulus money will allow trains to carry more cargo from Ohio to the East Coast, helping take commercial truck traffic off highways, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday.
LaHood announced $98 million for CSX Corp., one of 51 projects worth $1.5 billion that he said will have significant economic and environmental benefits. Other initiatives include money to help rebuild a scenic highway through Yellowstone National Park and to fund streetcar projects in Dallas, New Orleans, Tucson, Ariz., and Portland, Ore.
The money for CSX Corp., the nation's third-largest railroad, will be used to raise vertical clearances on tunnels and bridges, allowing trains to carry double-stacked containers filled with electronics, clothing and other consumer goods. The money will fund the first corridor of the project, from northwest Ohio to Chambersburg, Pa., through West Virginia and Maryland.
Trains carrying twice the load will reduce fuel use, carbon emissions and highway congestion, LaHood said. A fully loaded double-stacked train can carry the equivalent load of 280 trucks, CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX and its affiliates have committed $395 million to the $842 million public-private project. The company anticipates states will contribute $189 million, with the federal government picking up the remaining 30 percent.
The goal is to complete the project by 2015, when an expansion of the Panama Canal will make it easier for Asian freight to reach Miami, Atlanta and other eastern U.S. cities, Sullivan said.
Construction began last year on a new distribution terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio, about 30 miles south of Toledo. The terminal, which will employ 200 when completed in 2011, will serve as a hub to load and unload cargo from trains to trucks.
LaHood also said Ohio will get $20 million in stimulus money to build a new bus transit center in Kent, improving connections to Cleveland and Akron.