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The office of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has announced a new program called the Alabama-USA Corridor that it says will beef up the supply chain infrastructure connecting the Port of Mobile to the Birmingham area and, eventually, the entire Southeast.
Alabama State Port Authority Director and CEO John Driscoll has said that bolstering the port’s intramodal operations, particularly via rail, is a top priority. Business at the port’s container terminal has grown rapidly over the last decade, and existing rail lines provide opportunities to move more of those shipping containers inland.
The Jan. 4 announcement appears to be a significant step in that direction. According to the governor’s office, the overall concept calls for $231.6 million in investment in rail projects “to upgrade economic development infrastructure in central and southern Alabama.” The first phase, costing $71.6 million, will focus on the rail connection to the McCalla Intramodal Facility near Birmingham.
Norfolk Southern train on the tracks. (Norfolk Southern Corp.)
The work “involves 12 specific track, signal and yard improvements on Norfolk Southern rail lines between Mobile, Selma and Birmingham.” The McCalla location is described as a 104-acre site with facilities available for manufacturing, warehousing and distribution operations.
Future work will link major economic development sites at Little Canoe Creek in Etowah County, Calera in Shelby County and the Calvert area in north Mobile and south Washington counties.
“The Alabama Port Authority welcomes this vital project as we address rapid growth in the port’s container intermodal and freight business lines,” said Driscoll. “The Norfolk Southern rail improvements will bolster capacity, reliability and market access through the Port of Mobile for regional supply chains.”
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“The A-USA Corridor is an innovative public-private partnership that will strengthen the nation’s supply chain at a critical time and boost the regional economy,” said Alan Shaw, president of Norfolk Southern. “We look forward to working with Governor Ivey and the Port of Mobile to make the A-USA Corridor an engine for job creation in Alabama for years to come.”
According to the Jan. 4 announcement, Norfolk Southern will fund more than half the project and most of the rest will come from a federal source. Alabama is allocating $5 million, plus “present and future Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program grants through the Alabama Department of Transportation.” CRISI is a U.S. Department of Transportation program.
“Creating good port access to central Alabama is a key part of this initiative, and it can provide options for freight containers to reach new destinations inland, which our country has struggled with during the supply chain crisis,” said Ivey.
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