The Maryland Department of Transportation has terminated its agreement with railroad operator CSX to locate a new Baltimore Rail Intermodal Facility in the western part of the city and has pulled all state funding from the project.
The state earlier committed of $30 million in capital funding and spent around $1 million on planning as part of an effort to help make the Port of Baltimore more attractive for incoming container shipments from Asia once an expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in 2015.
The state DOT has been working with CSX since 2009 to develop near-dock, double-stack rail capability for the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal. Double-stack rail transport involves stacking intermodal containers two high on rail cars. However, vertical clearances along CSX’s rail network prevented double-stack trains from reaching Seagirt Marine Terminal by rail.
In September 2012, Maryland and CSX announced that a new intermodal container transfer facility would be constructed south of CSX’s Howard Street Tunnel, currently the biggest clearance impediment, at CSX’s Mt. Clare Yard in southwest Baltimore City.
Since then the nearby residential and business communities of Morrell Park, Wilhelm Park and Saint Paul voiced concerns over the potential impacts the project would have on their community. CSX was unable to address these concerns to the satisfaction of the community, Maryland officials and the city of Baltimore, according to the state DOT. Part of the opposition centered on the expected 150 trucks that would be serving the facility each day.
“CSX has worked to develop an intermodal transfer facility that balances the needs of the community, the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore and the railroad for five years without success. This is very disappointing for all concerned,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, “but we remain deeply committed to working with all stakeholders to develop a long-term solution that brings double-stack capacity to the state and enhances the competitiveness of the Port of Baltimore.”
Read more about it from The Baltimore Sun.