On Tuesday, January 4th, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced the Alabama-USA Corridor, a new $231.6 million dollar project that aims to upgrade rail transportation infrastructure between the Port of Mobile and central Alabama. Once complete, A-USA Corridor is meant to support economic development by improving the state’s access to the Port of Mobile & offering new options for inbound freight. Keep reading to learn more about the A-USA Corridor and its impact on the state.
The Need for Improved Railway Infrastructure
According to Alabama State Port Authority Director and CEO John Driscoll, improving the Port of Mobile’s intramodal operations—especially by rail—is a top priority. As the only deep-water port in Alabama, the Port of Mobile has seen rapid growth in business lately. In fact, the Port of Mobile helped transport a whopping 23 million tons of cargo in 424,473 shipping containers in 2020. Currently, the Port of Mobile is in the midst of a four-year, $365.7 million modernization project to deepen, widen and improve the Port by 2025.
This modernization could be the answer to major supply chain delays that routinely affect the country’s major ports, including two California ports that account for 40% of sea freight imports entering the United States.
The A-USA Corridor project aims to support the continued growth of business at the Port of Mobile by improving the port’s connection, via rail, to the rest of the state.
“The Alabama Port Authority welcomes this vital project as we address rapid growth in the port’s container intermodal and freight business lines. The Norfolk Southern rail improvements will bolster capacity, reliability, and market access through the Port of Mobile for regional supply chains.”John C. Driscoll, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Alabama Port Authority
The first phase of the A-USA Corridor project is a $71.6 million initiative to link the Port of Mobile with the McCalla Intermodal Facility near Birmingham. The 280-mile rail corridor would also link the Port to mega economic development sites—each totaling more than 1,000 acres—in Etowah (Little Canoe Creek), Shelby (Calera) and Washington/Mobile (Calvert) counties. A fourth development site, located in McCala, will soon be home to a million square-feet of warehouse space.
However, these development sites—and the Port of Mobile—cannot continue to grow without access to efficient transportation. Although each have nearby access to major interstate highways, a mix of freight and interstate transport is necessary to meet the region’s economic expansion needs.
Phase One of the A-USA Corridor project involves 12 specific track, signal and yard improvements on Norfolk Southern rail lines between Mobile, Selma and Birmingham.
“Working together with the Port in Mobile to build out our infrastructure to move the commerce for Alabama and the greater southeastern region of the country must be one of our top priorities. Creating good port access to central Alabama is a key part of this initiative, and it can provide options for freight containers to reach new destinations inland, which our country has struggled with during the supply chain crisis. I am proud our state is looking ahead and investing in the Alabama-USA Corridor and the future jobs and economic opportunity it will bring.”Governor Kay Ivey
Supported by a Public-Private Partnership
The A-USA Corridor is supported by a public-private partnership, with transportation company Norfolk Southern funding more than 50 percent of the project. The State of Alabama is investing $5 million, while the remaining funding comes from Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program (CRISI) grants through the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) in partnership with Norfolk Southern.
“The A-USA Corridor is an innovative public-private partnership that will strengthen the nation’s supply chain at a critical time and boost the regional economy. We look forward to working with Governor Ivey and the Port of Mobile to make the A-USA Corridor an engine for job creation in Alabama for years to come.”Alan Shaw, President, Norfolk Southern
According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, the construction phases of the A-USA Corridor will create $497.2 million in gross business activity, which includes $184.8 million in earnings to 4,247 Alabama workers. In addition, the project will generate $13.1 million in state and local taxes.
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