The first phase of CSX Transportation's National Gateway project, which will allow trains carrying maximum-sized freight containers stacked two-high to travel between Ohio and East Coast ports, has been completed on time and within budget, the railroad said.
The project involves enlarging tunnels and improving clearance heights of bridges to allow taller trains to pass.
The first phase was between Greenwich, Ohio, about 80 miles southeast of Toledo, and a major container terminal in Chambersburg, Pa., near Harrisburg. It included replacing 18 bridges in northeast Ohio or lowering the tracks beneath them.
Similar bridge work was performed in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Six tunnels were enlarged in those latter states, and two Pennsylvania tunnels were converted to open cuts.
Double-stacked container trains are now operating between North Baltimore, Ohio, 32 miles south of Toledo, and Chambersburg.
“While this is a significant milestone, our work is not done,” Michael J. Ward, CSX's chairman, president, and chief executive said in a statement. “Working with our public-sector partners, we need to finish the job and complete double-stack clearances between Chambersburg and the ports of Baltimore and Virginia.”
Double-stack trains can run between Ohio and Baltimore if the containers are a smaller type used in overseas shipping. Tunnel and bridge work is needed in Maryland to allow larger domestic containers to fit through when stacked on railcars. Opening the Virginia-Ohio route will involve a major tunnel replacement project in southeast Washington.
Overall, the project will cost about $850 million, half of which CSX has sought from public funds. The Ohio bridge work included $30 million in federal stimulus funding.
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