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Published: Monday, 2/23/2009

Toledo City Council OKs funds for study on intermodal

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo City Council has unanimously approved $15,000 for the city s share of a required intermodal economic impact study.

James Tuschman, chairman of the Joint Task Force for Intermodal Transportation and Logistics, said council s approval last week of the economic impact study will enable the city to become part of grant applications for intermodal funding at Airline Junction.

The Airline Junction Intermodal Project represents a significant step forward with respect to regional economic development, Mr. Tuschman said. Our area is ideally situated to become a national freight distribution center for the Midwestern United States and southern Canada, as our regional intermodal assets represent some of the best in North America.

The task force recommended Airline Junction as a rail intermodal site with Norfolk Southern and the Ohio Department of Development.

Mr. Tuschman said Norfolk Southern is willing to partner with the city and the state to improve rail intermodal capacity at Airline Junction, contingent upon receiving significant financial assistance.

The Airline Junction facility, formally named by Norfolk Southern its Toledo Intermodal Terminal, is off Hill Avenue in South Toledo, with direct access to Toledo s heavy-load highway network serving an array of industrial districts in and near the city. This allows Michigan-weight trucks to travel to and from Michigan, the Port of Toledo, Airline Junction, and other industrial areas.

Intermodal refers to freight that travels by more than one mode of transportation, such as truck, train, ship, or airplane, in the same trailer or container. Intermodal terminals developed recently in places like Columbus, Rochelle, Ill., and Front Royal, Va., have attracted warehouses and distribution centers nearby.

The task force report recommended that area officials considering public improvements to support the development of intermodal capability focus, at least in the near term, on the Norfolk Southern terminal.

The report said that the facility could double its operations there if additional tracks were built, thus allowing cargo now trucked in from rail terminals in other cities to be brought into Toledo by train.

The ultimate goal is to be able to get an intermodal [terminal] here in Toledo or very close to Toledo to get some jobs, Council President Mark Sobczak said.

That is one of our core areas, along advanced energies, advanced manufacturing, logistics and transportation, and biosciences.

The study will be done by the University of Toledo and University of Tennessee.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:imessina@theblade.comor 419-724-6171.



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