Freight transport at airport to benefit local economy

by: Eric Philips Updated:

Intermodal tour

For the first time, Norfolk Southern rail officials gave Eyewitness News a tour Wednesday of their new facility at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The 200-acre facility situated between two runways will allow containers and trailers to be transferred to and from trucks to rail and to planes, all in one location.

"Having these facilities altogether is appealing to companies like warehouse operations, light manufacturing," said Norfolk Southern spokesperson Robin Chapman. "So we think having these facilities altogether will benefit the local economy."

Officials said that will be about $7 billion over the next 20 years.

That's not the only benefit.

The land where the intermodal yard has been built would have been land that the city would have had to pay to maintain.

Now that it's leased to Norfolk Southern, it will be revenue for the city at $1million a year in rent with a 75-year lease.

That will help defray the cost of maintaining the airfield that is important to consumers.

"We'll be able to control our costs that we pass onto the airlines and then hopefully they'll be able to control their costs in the form of prices, airline fares and other things," said airport Interim Aviation Director Brent Cagle.

Officials said less traffic congestion will be another residual benefit

As more trucking companies use this facility and others like it, you may see less big rigs on the road, saving fuel and the environment.

"You can put 300 trucks worth of freight on one train," Chapman said. "That's a tremendous economic advantage to the trucking companies."

Though they're already doing business, the intermodal facility will officially open this spring.

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