PRICHARD, W.Va. -- West Virginia manufacturers will have a new way to access international markets by as early as the end of next year, when construction wraps up on the new Prichard Intermodal Facility in Wayne County.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin toured the facility site Tuesday, following the $20 million, 250-job expansion announcement at the Allevard Sogefi USA plant, located about a quarter-mile up Old U.S. 52.
Intermodal facilities allow for the transfer of overseas cargo containers between railcars and tractor-trailers.
The state Department of Transportation awarded a $27.4 million construction bid to Kingwood-based Mountaineer Contractors, Inc. in August 2012.
Workers spent the last year raising and flattening the ground in order to make it flat and out of the area flood plain.
Though it looks like a flat piece of land now, Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, who is also executive director of the Wayne County Economic Development Authority, said officials hope within about 12 to 16 months, the area will be bustling with activity.
"They'll be able to park a train a mile long here and load and unload it," Perdue said. "Also, once this facility gets built, we're going to drop free-trade zone down over top if, which is going to give it some extra panache."
The free-trade zones are special territories considered outside of normal U.S. Customs territory. They allow goods to be exported from a zone without duty and tax.
The Prichard location lies along the Norfolk Southern rail line, which connects the port of Norfolk, Va. to the Midwest.
West Virginia does not currently have an intermodal facility in the state, making it more expensive for area manufacturers to import and export goods by increasing transportation costs.