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Northeast Florida business and government officials on Wednesday unveiled a rail feasibility study aimed at improving the movement of freight through the region by rail.The study has identified viable options for a rail alignment that would reduce grade crossings in the area and save transit time.Potential improvements near Jacksonville International Airport would reduce the number of crossings on a line to Port of Jacksonville (JAXPORT) marine terminals from 44 to 22 and eliminate 28 crossings on a line to the Port of Fernandina. The closures would open up hundreds of acres of new industrial lands for economic development, business and government officials believe.The officials involved in the study's release include CSX Corp. Assistant Vice President for Regional Development Clark Robertson, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, North Florida Transportation Planning Organization Executive Director Jeff Sheffield, Port of Fernandina Director and Florida Ports Council Chairman Val Schwec, and JAXPORT Chief Executive Officer Brian Taylor.The potential improvements along with JAXPORT's intermodal container transfer facility at Dames Point — which is scheduled to be completed in 2015 — will enhance Northeast Florida's ability to move freight more quickly and efficiently, said Taylor in a press release. The facility will facilitate the direct transfer of containers between vessels and trains, speeding up the shipment process and reducing the number of trucks on area roads, he said.
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