BELLEVUE, Ohio -- Norfolk Southern Corp. is embarking on a $160 million expansion of its railroad-freight classification yard in Bellevue that will add 275 jobs and make the facility the largest of its kind on the railroad's 20,000-mile network, the company said on Monday.
"Bellevue is already an important terminal for the classification and movement of freight, and this investment will expand and modernize Bellevue, contributing to the fluid movement of long-distance freight across our rail system," Mark Manion, Norfolk Southern's chief operating officer, said in an announcement.
"This project will help us improve asset utilization and efficiency, enhance customer service, strengthen our entire 22-state system, and further confirm Ohio's importance to freight-rail transportation."
The project, scheduled for completion in 2015, will add 38 classification tracks, bringing the Bellevue Yard's total to 80 tracks into which cargo-laden rail cars are sorted from arriving trains to assemble new outbound trains.
The new tracks will double the yard's daily sorting capacity from about 1,800 freight cars to 3,600, the railroad said.
Bellevue is 45 miles southeast of Toledo. It has been a railroading center since the late 19th century, when the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad -- later known as the Nickel Plate Road -- built its mainline through town.
Bellevue Yard was built in 1966 by the Norfolk & Western Railway, which bought Nickel Plate in 1964 and is a Norfolk Southern predecessor. It is one of 12 major classification yards on the Norfolk Southern system.
From Bellevue, Norfolk Southern operates lines toward Cleveland, Toledo, Sandusky, Columbus, and Fort Wayne, Ind., and it also interchanges freight with the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad there.
Between 100 and 110 trains originate, terminate, or pass through Bellevue on a typical day, the railroad said, and the yard is the base for 700 Norfolk Southern employees.
Trains sorted in the yard primarily haul vehicles, vehicle parts, agricultural products, and consumer goods.
Last year, Norfolk Southern realigned track and replaced signals in several of its junctions west of the yard to relieve train congestion through the city of Bellevue.
The railroad said it plans to upgrade 11 "control points" to improve train flow in and out of Bellevue Yard during the upcoming project.
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