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Virginia green lights NS to build Heartland Corridor terminal in Elliston


After two years of analysis and debate, a site is locked up in Virginia for an intermodal terminal along Norfolk Southern Corp.'s Heartland Corridor. Yesterday, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) announced it issued a notice to proceed, which authorizes the railroad to begin building the Roanoke Region Intermodal Facility in Elliston.

The notice enables NS to launch construction by winter and complete the terminal by 2010. The Class I is required to coordinate the construction process with DRPT, Montgomery County, the Virginia Department of Transportation and other organizations to minimize local impacts.

Since 2006, DRPT has worked with communities in the Roanoke region to consider potential sites for the facility, and completed various site reviews and analyses. In March, DRPT released a summary report, which concluded Elliston is the only feasible site for the terminal.  

The Heartland Corridor is a double-stack train route NS is creating through Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio. The corridor will shave about 250 miles off the Class I's existing intermodal route between Virginia ports and the Midwest and save more than 30 hours in transit time. Currently, NS' double-stack trains travel to the Midwest via Harrisburg, Pa., or Knoxville, Tenn. In addition to the Elliston facility, the project includes new intermodal terminals in Columbus, Ohio — which opened March 3 — and Prichard, W.Va.

The corridor will save 1.5 days of shipping time between the Port of Virginia and Midwest markets, remove 1.9 million trucks from the commonwealth's highways, save 189 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tons in its first 15 years of operation, Virginia officials estimate.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/20/2008