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NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio -- Calling efficient and inexpensive transportation vital to the future of the United States' manufacturing economy, Vice President Joe Biden today lauded CSX's Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal here and cited public funding toward railroad improvements linking it with Atlantic ports as exemplary of government's role in infrastructure development.
While CSX Transportation used no public funds to develop its $175 million, 500-acre terminal on former farmland in Henry Township, bridge and tunnel work in eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia was paid for in part by $98 million in federal funds as well as state funding, Mr. Biden said during an address at the northwest Ohio terminal.
"Without TIGER, there would be no National Gateway," Mr. Biden said, referring to the Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Revitalization grant program and CSX's name for its program of terminal construction and rail line improvements that includes the North Baltimore hub, opened in 2011.
In CSX's case, he said, the federal grant leveraged $180 million in state funds and $500 million in CSX investment. Similar improvements and expansion of transportation facilities across the country is needed to help American manufacturers compete globally and create good-paying jobs for middle-class workers.
Infrastructure improvement "means good jobs coming home, and brings private-sector investment off the sidelines," the vice president said.
Noting pending expansion of the Panama Canal that will double the potential cargo capacity of ships using that link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Mr. Biden characterized the North Baltimore terminal to "the inland version of widening the Panama Canal." But without higher overpasses and taller tunnels to accommodate trains hauling freight containers stacked two-high on specially designed rail cars, he said, the shipments moved at terminals like North Baltimore can't get to and from ports.
A CSX grant application for $21 million in additional TIGER funding toward expanding the terminal, however, was turned down in September.
Rusty Orben, CSX’s director of public affairs, has said in May that without the grant picking up half the expansion’s estimated $42 million cost, it wouldn’t be built. But Carla Groleau, a CSX spokesman, said Wednesday the company is “still considering our options” for expanding the North Baltimore facility.