Construction is expected to begin on a long-awaited $90 million intermodal facility at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, with the city of Charlotte saying it signed a lease agreement today with Norfolk Southern Corp.
Plans call for Norfolk to relocate its 40-acre intermodal rail yard from North Davidson and North Brevard Streets in uptown to the airport, where Norfolk is expected to operate a 200-acre facility.
Northern Southern will build the facility, which is scheduled to open in 2014. Norfolk will pay construction costs, with the federal and state governments pitching in $15.7 million.
The intermodal facility is part of Norfolk’s multistate Crescent Corridor project, an initiative to establish a high-capacity, 2,500-mile intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast.
The new facility is expected to generate $9 billion in economic impact over the next 20 years, according to the city.
Land has already been graded for the facility, which will sit along the southern end of the airport’s center parallel runway and 40 feet under two taxiway bridges, the city said.
The city says the new facility will bring other benefits: Trucks that served the former facility will no longer add to traffic on uptown streets. Last year, Airport Director Jerry Orr said the new facility will have the space to park approximately 1,500 tractor-trailers.
He also said the project will mean truck, train and air-freight traffic will be in one location, a boon for the city.
It’s not all good news for everyone. Some trucking companies, like Lowell, Ark.-based J.B. Hunt, said they will be hurt when Norfolk relocates and tractor-trailer traffic is diverted to the airport.
And it’s taken more than a decade for the project to see the light of day. The facility was first envisioned in the 1990s.