Mobile MPO votes to support Port Authority plan to transport containers to Montgomery by rail

A plan to increase rail transportation from the Port of Mobile to other parts of the state cleared another hurdle yesterday.

The Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to support the Alabama State Port Authority’s plan to move containers entering the Port of Mobile to Montgomery by rail, a plan that will significantly reduce the number of container trucks on I-65, says DFO.

“We identified this as a possibility years ago,” said Tom Piper, senior transportation planner for the Southern Alabama Regional Planning Commission and incoming director of transportation. “We’ve been in the background, saying ‘we have to do this. And now they got federal funds to do it.

The Alabama Port Authority will create a new intermodal transfer facility in Montgomery and expand freight rail service from the port to the Montgomery facility, allowing for more container rail transportation. Officials say this will reduce the number of trucks on I-65, which is currently overcapacity. According to the Port Authority, a 7,000 foot container train can carry the load of approximately 240 trucks. However, not all containers bound for Montgomery will be transported this way, Piper said.

The Port Authority is partnering with CSX Transportation to create the facility. CSX will be able to recoup its investment in the facility through a state tax credit program. Construction of the facility is expected to cost approximately $67.3 million and related port and rail improvements are expected to cost $80 million. Money for the project comes from the federal Omnibus Credits Act for the year and the port’s own revenue, the port authority said.

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