Opening of Historic Heartland Corridor brings
more Business to Ohio
First freight trains run on Norfolk Southern corridor from Port of Virginia to Columbus and Midwest
COLUMBUS (Thursday, September 9, 2010) - Celebrating what’s been called “the most ambitious railroad engineering project in the past century,” the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Rail Development Commission are welcoming the first double-stacked freight trains to run on Norfolk Southern’s Heartland Corridor - bringing more goods and more business from the Port of Virginia into Columbus and the Midwest.
The Heartland Corridor is the result of a three-year $191 million public-private partnership with the federal government, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Norfolk Southern to create a fast, direct double stack route from the East Coast into the Midwest.
“This new rail corridor means Ohio shippers have a fast, efficient link to world markets, and those markets to us,” said ORDC Executive Director Matt Dietrich.
ODOT and ORDC are also investing more than $80 million in additional roadway and rail projects to better connect the Heartland Corridor to the Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal in Columbus, including the $14 million stimulus-funded Rickenbacker Parkway - a four-lane divided roadway around the western edge of the nearby airport.
The Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal is already undergoing an expansion of track capacity and is attracting a growing number of distribution and logistics companies, bringing new jobs for the trucking industry and warehousing operations
“These investments will improve safety and better connect the modes to transportation that meet in this one location,” said ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris. “Over the next 30 years, studies show the Rickenbacker intermodal facility and resulting development could produce thousands of direct jobs. Now that’s a return on investment!”
The first fully-loaded train to use the new intermodal route is leaving the Port of Virginia in Norfolk on Thursday and will arrive Friday morning in Columbus. By raising the clearances of 28 tunnels and 24 overhead obstructions - such as bridges and overpasses - more than 250 route miles have been eliminated, saving at least a day in transit shipping time.
When the idea of a high-speed freight rail corridor for containerized freight between Columbus and the Port of Virginia was first brought up, ORDC was one of the first agencies to invest in feasibility studies that led to the historic public-private partnership.
In 2006, ORDC then approved a grant of $836,355 for Ohio’s portion of a match for a $90-million Congressional appropriation to partner with Norfolk Southern to construct the Heartland Corridor.
In 2010, ODOT initiated several road projects near the Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal to support growing business in the region, including improvements near the Interstate 270/Alum Creek Drive interchange, widening of bridges on I-270 between US Route 23 and I-71, and a partnership effort to improve the I-71 Grove City interchange at State Route 665.
The state’s investments in the Heartland Corridor are part of a competitive rail investment strategy - which also includes investments in the CSX National Gateway and the 3C “Quick Start” passenger rail service - aimed at improving Ohio’s position as a logistics and distribution leader.
For more information contact: Scott Varner, ODOT Communications, at 614-644-8640
Stu Nicholson, ORDC Communications, at 614-644-0513
or Rudy Husband, Norfolk Southern, at 610-567-3377
MEDIA ONLY: The first Heartland Corridor train into Columbus is expected into Rickenbacker between 6:00 - 8:00am Friday. Media wishing to get video/pictures of the train should contact Norfolk Southern for access.