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Rail News: Intermodal

Illinois, Pennsylvania provide funds for ports

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn yesterday announced the state will provide up to $1.3 million to help develop the Mid-America Port along the Mississippi River in Quincy.

The funds from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program will be used to complete the planning phase for the $80 million intermodal port project. Mid-America Port will be served by BNSF Railway Co. and Norfolk Southern Railway.

"The Mississippi River forms our entire western border and is one of the nation’s key routes to transport Illinois goods around the world, [and] Quincy is perfectly situated to take full advantage of this water highway," said Quinn in a press release. "Mid-America Port will link water, road, rail and air transportation like never before. When completed, the intermodal port will ensure western Illinois is better equipped to give our businesses and farmers even better access to the global market."

More than $12 million in infrastructure investments already have been made to support Mid-America Port's development, including a state-funded $4.2 million highway intersection upgrade, $3.5 million rail spur and $1.8 million in road upgrades. The port is designed to be completed in phases as funds become available.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett last week announced that Mediterranean Shipping Co. S.A. (MSC) will continue using the Port of Philadelphia because of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (PennDOT) Multimodal Transportation Fund.

MSC decided to maintain its Pennsylvania operations based on its eligibility for a new Intermodal Cargo Growth Incentive Program established by the multimodal fund, which includes dedicated budget categories for freight-rail, port, aviation and bicycle-pedestrian projects. The incentive program commits up to $1 million annually for five years to encourage ocean carriers to transport more cargo to and from the port by awarding $25 per container lift above previously reported lift totals.

"This new program is another example of how investing in all transportation modes keeps commerce strong and supports good-paying jobs," Corbett said in a press release. "If MSC stopped shipping to the Port of Philadelphia, it would have had a severe economic impact and put jobs at risk."

MSC had considered stopping service to the port — which is served by CSX Transportation and NS — as part of an effort to consolidate East Coast service from five ports to two. With 19,500 annual carrier moves, MSC accounts for about a quarter of the port's volume and could be eligible for $487,500 through the incentive program based on current and projected loadings, Corbett said.

By encouraging companies like MSC to bring more cargo to Philadelphia, PennDOT expects the new program to attract at least 200,000 container moves annually to the port over the five-year program's term, he said.

Earlier this month, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority released a request for expressions of interest regarding the development of its Southport Terminal complex in South Philadelphia. The authority is seeking interested parties to explore entering into one or more public-private partnerships to design, build, finance, operate and maintain three available sites within the complex.

The area includes substantial rail, highway and water access, including rail yards served by CSX and NS, and a federal navigation channel that's being deepened to 45 feet, according to the authority.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/28/2014