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Rail News: Intermodal

Key freight access project under way at Washington state port; rail volume spike overwhelms Virginia port

The Port of Vancouver USA recently announced that the second phase, or "crown jewel," of the West Vancouver Freight Access (WVFA) project is under way in Vancouver, Wash.

The phase involves the construction of a pile-supported concrete structure for a south lead track, effectively creating a new grade-separated southside entrance, port officials said in an online announcement. Slated for completion in July 2014, the project will enable full-length unit trains to enter the port without impeding upon an existing north/south BNSF Railway Co. line that's used continually each day by freight and passenger trains, they said.

"[The] project will allow the port to continue to serve existing customers while attracting new business with the added capacity and efficiency that it provides," port officials said. "Initially, the project will include one new rail line, though the structure and foundation are designed to accommodate two rail lines, which will allow for future expansion to take advantage of new opportunities."

The port in June awarded a $9.4 million contract to Rotschy Inc. to perform the work. In 2007, the port received a $2.94 million grant from the Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board to help finance the project.

The largest capital project in the port's 100-year history, the WVFA project is designed to establish new dual-carrier rail access into the port via BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad; enlarge the port's rail yard and create a loop track; and relocate facilities and utilities to accommodate track realignment. The entire project is slated for completion in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Port of Virginia last last week reported that its Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) and APM Terminals in Portsmouth (APMT) have registered a significant spike in rail cargo because of peak season volumes and rail diversions due to congestion at other ports.

Daily rail surges are pushing rail capacity and creating operational delays, port officials said in a press release.

Rail operations at NIT and APMT are continuing 24/7 and the port "is doing everything it can, within its capabilities, to expedite this cargo," they said, adding that a number of operational enhancements and directives have been authorized to add capacity and boost productivity.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/13/2013