West Virginia intermodal terminal may close or be sold

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CHARLESTON, W.V. — The West Virginia Port Authority is moving forward to find a lessee for one of the state's intermodal facilities in anticipation of possibly auctioning the facility off or selling it.

At a meeting Tuesday, the West Virginia Port Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the board chairman to begin seeking out a business or operator to lease the Heartland Intermodal Gateway at Pritchard, W.Va., located along Norfolk Southern's Kenova District main line. The resolution directs that the lessee would enter into a short-term agreement to operate the facility, which has mostly failed to gain traction as a significant road-to-rail terminal. The Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper reports that the facility is likely to shut down this fall and could go on the auction block within a year.

The $32 million Heartland Intermodal Gateway was opened in 2015 with the intent that the 100-acre facility would serve businesses and industry in southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southern Ohio. The facility is located along the Big Sandy River and is about 10 miles from Interstate 64 at Kenova. The Gazette Mail reports that Port Authority President Byrd White said Norfolk Southern will stop service to the facility in October unless the railroad can reach a 15,000-container-per-year threshold. WCHS-TV reports that White said the facility is losing a half-million dollars per year.

The Heartland Intermodal Gateway was constructed to be a significant terminal along NS's Heartland Corridor between Chicago and ports in Hampton Roads, Va. NS donated most of the land used to construct the intermodal facility, and also undertook a major project to raise the height restriction in dozens of tunnels to allow double-stack containers to be shipped along the Heartland Corridor.

An employee with the port authority told Trains News Wire says a railcar repair firm has expressed interest in locating at the facility, but she did not specifically name which firm has expressed interest.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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