Work starts on 2 intermodal freight facilities in Memphis, Birmingham

Work can begin on construction of two intermodal freight facilities in Memphis and Birmingham thanks to a signed grant agreement with the Alabama and Tennessee Departments of Transportation for $105 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced.

The facilities are a key part of a larger effort to increase rail capacity and relieve traffic congestion along the 2,500-mile Crescent Corridor from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-Atlantic.

“President Obama’s efforts to create jobs and improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure depend on investments like these,” said Secretary LaHood. “The new facilities in Birmingham and Memphis will create jobs, help increase rail capacity, reduce highway traffic congestion and improve air quality for area residents.”

Of the $105 million, Alabama will use half — $52.5 million — to build the 261-acre Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility (BRIMF) near McCalla, about 20 miles southwest of Birmingham. The remainder of this $97.5 million project’s funding will come from Norfolk Southern Railway Company (Norfolk Southern) and other sources.

Tennessee will use its half — $52.5 million — to build the 380-acre Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility (MRIMF) immediately west of Rossville, about 27 miles east of downtown Memphis. The remainder of this $105.1 million project’s funding is expected to come from Norfolk Southern and other sources.

The existing Crescent Corridor passes through 13 states, from Louisiana to New Jersey. The planned upgrades to facilities and rail capacity will allow freight to move faster and more reliably. By diverting 1.3 million commercial trucks from interstates, the Crescent Corridor will greatly improve air quality along the route, reduce traffic congestion and generate significant fuel savings.

“These two new facilities will play key roles in keeping our economy strong,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez in a written press statement. “The jobs they will create for hundreds of workers will keep our highways safe and ensure that this important rail corridor is ready to meet the demands of the 21st century.”

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The grant is part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program included in the Recovery Act to promote innovative, multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional transportation projects that provide significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, region or the nation.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the selection of $1.5 billion worth of TIGER grants for 51 projects as part of the first anniversary of the Recovery Act on Feb. 17.