Airport rail yard putting Charlotte on freight map, Norfolk Southern official says

06/26/2014 5:43 PM

06/26/2014 5:44 PM

Charlotte’s intermodal shipping facility has put the Queen City “on the map” nationally as a transportation hub, a Norfolk Southern official told Charlotte business and civic leaders Thursday.

That declaration came as the group, convened by Central Piedmont Community College President Tony Zeiss and other civic leaders, received an update from Grant Cothran, an intermodal development official with Norfolk Southern.

Cothran said the Norfolk Southern facility can lift 200,000 freight containers to or from trains annually. He said it has made Charlotte a key point on the nation’s freight shipping map, along with Dallas, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and select other cities.

“Charlotte’s role on that map is only going to increase with time,” he said.

During a tour of the site, Deputy Interim Aviation Director Jack Christine told the group the facility can be expanded to handle about 600,000 containers annually.

The group, focused on improving Charlotte’s global competitiveness, has held several summits on the topic. Participants said the group is working to forge stronger ties to ambassadors and honorary consuls who can spread the word about Charlotte to foreign businesses.

Retired Superior Court Judge Chase Saunders, another organizer of the group, said Charlotte needs to position itself as an “inland port” with easy access to rail, interstate highways and the airways.

“There’s no such thing as a protected moat,” he said. “If you don’t have a strategy (to compete), somebody will eat your lunch.”

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