Thursday, December 31, 2009
Norfolk to boost economy
By SUE WATSON
Huge economic spinoffs and job opportunities are expected for Marshall County as a result of the construction of the Memphis Intermodal Yard in the Rossville and Piperton, Tenn., area just across the county line from the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park.
Attorney Ralph Doxey recently reviewed the timeline and projected reaping of jobs and tax revenues. He asked the board of supervisors for a letter of support for the Crescent Corridor Intermodal Freight Project, a $600 million development which will add five new intermodal yards to the Norfolk Southern system.
Five state governors, including Haley Barbour of Mississippi, are supporting the project with an application for funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project has come to fruition because of the availability of $300 million in economic stimulus monies. Norfolk Southern will match that money to improve and make safe the tracks and build intermodal facilities that will offer cheaper transportation of shipped goods from the Northeast down the corridor to New Orleans and back up the corridor.
Expenditures of the $600 million to improve tracks, lay new ones, and to straighten tracks for this effort will be made throughout the Crescent Corridor. Norfolk Southern would put up $117 million to build the Memphis Intermodal Yard at Rossville. He said Norfolk Southern plans to follow through with this project even if the $300 million that is proposed to come from the Obama federal stimulus monies for transportation fails to materialize.
“If we can get the stimulus money, the project can be completed quicker and will benefit the economy sooner,” Doxey said.
The trains that stop at the intermodal yards will carry 80 percent shipping containers and 20 percent truck trailers on their backs, saving millions of dollars in fuel costs over the highways and in highway maintenance costs in the states served - Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Doxey said the Norfolk Southern will also tie in with the Kansas City (east/west) railroad near Meridian and cargo can go by rail all the way to Texas.
In all cases, the railroad parallels the interstate highways (I-81, I-85, I-40, I-20, and I-59), Doxey said. The Crescent Corridor, when completed, is expected to take about 25 percent of 4.8 million truck loads a year off the roads, or said another way, it would capture about one million truck loads. The remaining cargo would be carried in shipping containers.
Norfolk Southern has proposed to build a spur line to the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park and lots of truck traffic will enter the intermodal yard in Tennessee from Highway 72 in Marshall County. Much of the diesel fuel to supply the trains will be purchased in Mississippi and the state will reap the diesel fuel tax revenues.
And a major truck stop will be built on Highway 72 to service trucks entering and leaving the intermodal yard, Doxey said.
The intermodal yard will be completed and in operation in two years and up to full speed operations in four years when it is estimated a thousand trucks a day will enter and leave the yard every day of the year.
Doxey provided some projected figures of the impact to Mississippians and Marshall County as a result of the construction of the Memphis Intermodal yard across the state line.
Some impacts expected are:
Benefits to Mississippi alone are projected to include – $56.3 million a year infusion into the economy by 2030; $777.5 million cumulative economic impact from 2009 to 2030; 1,585 new jobs by 2030; and $49.3 million annual payroll by 2030.
The Crescent Corridor construction represents one of the single largest additions of new freight capacity since the completion of the interstate highway system. It is said to be possible to achieve this capacity in a “fraction of the time and cost” it would take to build new highway lanes.
Doxey said the potential growth for Marshall County and Holly Springs is huge.
He also visited the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen meeting and asked for city leaders’ letter of support at the mid-month meeting. Mayor Andre’ DeBerry offered a letter and a resolution in support of the project.
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