December 14, 2011

Rahall, Rockefeller, Manchin Announce $12 Million Awarded for Prichard Intermodal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Continuing efforts to improve the transportation system and economy of southern West Virginia, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), along with Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin (both D-W.Va.), Wednesday announced the West Virginia Ports Authority has been awarded $12 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to construct a long-planned intermodal terminal along Norfolk Southern’s Heartland Corridor near Prichard.

“This is the king of jumpstarts for the economy of this area.  With this new federal funding we are really picking up steam in our efforts to advance the Prichard Intermodal Facility,” said Rahall, top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The public-private investment between the State, the Federal government, and Norfolk Southern holds tremendous promise for diversifying the economy and creating welcome needed jobs.”  

The Prichard Intermodal Facility is being developed to serve as a cargo-transfer station along the Norfolk Southern rail line.  Once completed, this facility would give industries in the tri-state area (West Virginia-Kentucky-Ohio) more modern and efficient freight container service and enhanced access to international rail lines.

In 2005, Rahall was instrumental in winning Congressional passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which authorized $90 million for the Heartland Corridor.  That initiative expanded tunnel clearances and removed overhead obstructions to enable the transport of double-stacked international maritime and domestic containers along the Norfolk Southern line that runs through southern West Virginia.  

Throughout the current session of Congress, Rahall, in his position as the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has been actively pursuing Congressional passage of a multiyear surface transportation bill needed to continue building, maintaining, and improving America’s transportation system. 

“I am hard at work trying to advance a major bill that would address our national transportation needs and create jobs. Certainly projects like the Prichard Intermodal facility fit nicely into a comprehensive national transportation program, and I believe that a new authorization bill ought to include robust funding for projects like this, as well as the monies needed to expand, make safer, and modernize our highways and bridges,” said Rahall.

“I commend Senators Rockefeller and Manchin, Governor Tomblin, Speaker Thompson, Secretary Mattox, Norfolk Southern, and the Rahall Transportation Institute for their support of this initiative.  Senator Bob Plymale and Delegate Don Perdue have championed this effort and have been true workhorses in building a solid partnership to advance this project. I thank them for caring and contributing to the future of Prichard and our region.” 

“This intermodal center will be an asset for the area – creating jobs and boosting transportation throughout the region.  These improvements are vital to our economic competitiveness,” said Senator Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  “I’m also working on a bill that will provide the critical investment we need to rebuild our weakening transportation network, put thousands of people back to work, and allow our country to grow – without adding to the deficit.  The Prichard Intermodal Center will be a key piece of that network.”

“Investing in American infrastructure is one of the most important steps we can take right now to put people back to work and get our economy moving again,” Senator Manchin said. “I truly believe that construction of transportation infrastructure has the potential to spur economic development in our state that will pay dividends for years to come, and I commend the public-private partnership that made this project possible. I have always said we can do the most good for our state when we invest together in our future.” 

“This is very good news for both West Virginia and Norfolk Southern. It means the state can move forward with a project that will spur economic growth in the region by taking advantage of the improvements we completed last year in the Heartland Corridor. We look forward to participating in that growth.  We thank Congressman Nick Rahall for his vision and leadership in helping to make it possible,” said Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman.

The Rahall Transportation Institute has been studying the potential of the Prichard facility and successfully launched a web-based survey that is seeking to identify opportunities to improve the economic competiveness of regional shippers and tap into the lucrative international freight markets.   Early analysis suggests there is growing demand in intermodal traffic in the Huntington-Prichard marketplace.

“This funding is further evidence of how the Federal and State government partnership can enhance economic development,” said State Senator Robert H. Plymale, who authored state legislation to provide a funding source for projects like the Prichard Intermodal Facility. 

The new $12 million grant is provided through DOT’s Fiscal Year 2011 National Infrastructure Investments or TIGER III Discretionary Grants Program.