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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Philadelphia port container terminal plan in limbo until distribution center relocation issue is resolved


Two U.S. terminal operators and an investment firm are interested in developing and operating container-handling facilities under a Philadelphia port development plan. But the proposed relocation of a food distribution center to the city’s waterfront is lessening their interest because an elevated highway that would serve the center would block the port's access to three Class Is.

“Philadelphia is the only U.S. port with direct access to three Class I railroads, and destroying that unique benefit would be a tragedy,” said Dennis Rochford, president of the Maritime Exchange of the Delaware River and Bay, in a prepared statement. "With the CSX, Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific rail lines calling within yards of the new terminal locations, cargo moving through our port can be swiftly transported to final destination, including to Canada.”

If container-handling facilities are built, the port’s annual cargo volume would increase from 544,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 3.5 million TEUs by 2016.

Because West Coast port capacity constraints are forcing retailers such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target to change routing patterns from Asia through the Panama Canal to the East Coast, the Philadelphia port could be part of a market re-allocation, according to a recent economic and commercial impact study.

For now, Philadelphia Regional Port Authority officials are reviewing options with port stakeholders and state representatives before rendering a final decision on the port development plan.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/22/2007