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The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has terminated its agreement with CSX Transportation and CSX Intermodal Terminals Inc. regarding the development of the Baltimore Rail Intermodal Facility at Morrell Park, and has pulled all state funding from the project, Maryland Transportation Secretary James Smith Jr. announced yesterday.MDOT's capital funding commitment of $30 million and the remaining planning fund balance of about $1.45 million will not be included in the department's draft six-year budget for fiscal years 2015 to 2020 that the state expects to release on Sept. 2, Smith said in a press release.MDOT has been working with CSX since 2009 to develop a near-dock, double-stack intermodal facility for the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal. Vertical clearances along the railroad's network prevent double-stack trains from reaching the terminal by rail.In September 2012, MDOT and CSX announced that a new intermodal container transfer facility would be constructed south of the Class I's Howard Street Tunnel at the railroad's yard in southwest Baltimore. But residents and business owners in Morrell Park, Wilhelm Park and Saint Paul since have voiced concerns about the project's potential impacts on their communities. CSX was unable to address those concerns to the satisfaction of the communities, MDOT and city of Baltimore, said Smith. "CSX has worked to develop an intermodal transfer facility that balances the needs of the community, the state of Maryland, the city of Baltimore and the railroad for five years without success. This is very disappointing for all concerned," he said. "But we remain deeply committed to working with all stakeholders to develop a long-term solution that brings double-stack capacity to the state and enhances the competitiveness of the Port of Baltimore."Over the coming year, MDOT plans to work with stakeholders to assess the feasibility of other initiatives that could improve freight movement through Baltimore, such as implementing cost-saving operational efficiencies at the Seagirt terminal, introducing potential shipping incentives for international cargo and incorporating double-stack capacity into the replacement of Amtrak’s Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel."We are viewing this as an opportunity to regroup and come up with a better alternative," said Maryland Port Administration Executive Director James White. "It is in Maryland's and the local economy's interest to keep looking for a long-term solution that will provide double-stack access for all freight railroads servicing Maryland’s marine terminals."
CSX remains committed to leveraging intermodal freight as a competitive advantage for the Port of Baltimore, said spokesman Rob Doolittle in an email."We continue exploring — with the state, the port and Ports America — an approach that maximizes the available resources to strengthen Baltimore’s leadership position as a key facility in the U.S. east coast freight network," he said. "At the same time, we have heard the concerns of residents and businesses in several communities and want to be responsive to the issues raised. We are working toward a solution that will benefit everyone involved."
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