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Norfolk Southern plans rail corridor

By Sonja Barisic
Associated Press Writer

NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Southern Corp. announced plans Wednesday for a $2 billion-plus rail corridor stretching from Louisiana to New Jersey that the freight railroad said would speed cargo
shipments and reduce highway congestion by diverting truck traffic.

Norfolk Southern has routes that run through the Decatur area but has not said if and how those routes might be affected. Calls to Norfolk Southern on Wednesday afternoon were not immediately returned.

The Crescent Corridor project involves expanding and improving Norfolk Southern’s rail network from the Northeast to the Southeast.

Virginia has committed $40 million in seed money for the Crescent Corridor project, which would run along Interstate 81, a major truck route, said Mike McClellan, Norfolk Southern’s vice president of intermodal and automotive marketing.

The Norfolk-based railroad is seeking additional public money.

Public bodies should want to invest because the project will have public benefits, such as reducing highway congestion and vehicle emissions and creating economic development opportunities, McClellan said in a telephone interview.

“We’re talking about developing an entire corridor to help relieve pressure on the interstate system,” he said.

The railroad also is prepared to “invest a lot in this corridor ... up to an amount that provides us an acceptable return on our investment,” McClellan said. He declined to give a dollar figure.

McClellan announced the corridor during a presentation to analysts during a conference in New York.

The corridor would include about 1,400 rail miles from New Orleans to Newark, N.J., plus investments on parallel routes, McClellan said.

The corridor would run through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, said Robin Chapman, a Norfolk Southern spokesman. Two new terminals would be built, in central Maryland and eastern Tennessee, he said.

If financing works out, construction would begin in 2008. The first phase would be completed by 2009, with the entire project being finished by 2013.

Daily Assistant Metro Editor Franklin Harris contributed to this report.

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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