Construction of an intermodal terminal at Prichard in Wayne County will be a big deal for shippers in the region, as the West Virginia Public Port Authority has said.
By 2014, shippers within a 150-mile radius will have an alternative to the existing intermodal terminals at Columbus, Ohio, and Luray, Va. The implications for national and international trade are obvious.
As Daily Mail Business Editor George Hohmann explained on Sunday, under the Heartland Corridor project, Norfolk Southern raised the height of 28 railroad tunnels on its Pocahontas line through West Virginia. This allows shipment of double-stacked cargo containers.
The $150 million corridor project began six years ago, with Congress kicking in $95 million. Completion created a shortcut between Columbus, Ohio, and the Port of Virginia in Norfolk.
That cut travel from Chicago and Hampton Roads by 233 miles, and shaved off a full day's travel time.
The Prichard facility capitalizes on the Heartland project. The terminal will make West Virginia a gathering point to move goods west to Columbus, Chicago and beyond - and south to the Port of Virginia in Norfolk.
And from there to the expanded Panama Canal. The capacity of the canal is being doubled, and that will shift international trade patterns.
The Prichard facility eventually could result in creation of an estimated 1,000 jobs in the region, and take as many as 350 trucks a day off the roads.
"The terminal allows West Virginia to compete in the regional and eventually the global marketplace," said Doug York, executive director of the West Virginia Public Port Authority. "It will also result in less traffic on our interstates and save shippers time and money."
West Virginia is already a significant exporter. The Heartland and Prichard projects make it possible to see an even more powerful future ahead.