I-81 Freight Rail Study and Norfolk Southern Cresent Corridor compared and contrasted in new paper for CTB
Because both are rail intermodal efforts
affecting the I-81 Corridor, there has been public confusion over
what these two projects are and how they differ. In a new paper
prepared for the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting in Roanoke
on November 7, RAIL Solution details the differences and highlights
some curious ways the new NS direction departs from the vision of
its own CEO, Wick Moorman (2nd item below).
"I-81 Crescent Corridor" Initiative
RAIL Solution has been asked our views on
Norfolk Southern's recently announced "I-81 Crescent Corridor"
initiative. To understand its significance, one has to separate what's
old from what's new.
Norfolk Southern President, Chairman, and
CEO Charles "Wick" Moorman made a major address at Hotel
Roanoke, which he called a "coming out party" for the
railroad's I-81 strategy.
A Multi-State Plan Needs Multi-State Involvement
Solution is reaching out to Tennesseans,
Pennsylvanians, Marylanders, and
“Our neighbors need to know
that the H-1581 process offers opportunity
for significant transport- ation
improvements at less cost to taxpayers,
highway users and our environment
up and down the I-81 Corridor. These
citizens need to be pressing their
transportation planners to gain
access to the intermodal rail planning
RAIL Solution Exec. Dir.
The Public Private Transportation Act of 1995 established a process
by which Virginia transportation entities such as the Virginia Department
of Transportation (VDOT) or the Virginia Department of Rail and Public
Transit (VDRPT) may enter into contractual agreements for designing and
building transportation projects to meet state transportation needs. The
idea was that the PPTA would provide a new infusion of private capital
to meet growing transportation needs in the face of diminishing public
revenue capacity to meet these demands.
Analysis and Critique. The Southern Environmental Law
Center in Charlottesville, VA released an analysis
and critique of Virginia's PPTA in January, 2005. For the complete
report, check the SELC
A bulleted summary of the SELC's PPTA report:
The PPTA has not attracted significant private equity capital to
* Most projects are paid for with taxpayer
dollars and tolls.
* Costs and risks borne
by taxpayers are often understated or unclear.
* The role of the Commonwealth
Transportation Board is being undercut.
* The PPTA can advance projects that
are not high priorities for the public while projects the state
and localities have agreed upon may languish with insufficient funding.
Norfolk Southern and other railroads may not have
or leverage much private sector cash to contribute to transportation partnerships,
but it is very important
to recognize what railroads do
have — infrastructure, such as track, right of way, signaling and
traffic management systems, that
no highway contractor or trucking company can offer.
These private resources, enhanced in a public-private partnership (using
a multi-state-railroad company compact or working through a rail authority
or directly through VDRPT to leverage federal loan money) mobilize private
capital resources for a public good.
With Virginia, taking the leadership to meet her people's
transportation needs, offering the railroad a proposition which makes
use of company's resources, but significantly enhances them for the
public good — a true, mutually beneficial public-private transportation
partnership would emerge. This partnership could create a new, world class,
time-competitive rail service, while keeping I-81 toll-free. This is leadership
that meets transportation needs with less cost and consequent damage while
enhancing regional economic development.
In contrast to the railroad, STAR Solutions has not demonstrated
that it has any private capital or assets to
contribute to help lower costs of the STAR plan or of constructing any
plan. RAIL Solution supports competitive bidding rather than a no-bid
contract with this huge Halliburton-led construction consortium.
(prepared by the Southern Environmental Law Center)
Jan. 2002 - VDOT received an unsolicited conceptual proposal
from STAR Solutions contracting consortium to rebuild I-81 with exclusive
truck toll lanes.
Sept. 2002 - VDOT returned the STAR Solutions proposal
and solicited conceptual proposals from private entities to design, build,
improve, maintain and/or operate all or parts of I-81 through Virginia,
requiring a multi-modal component to the plan.
Jan. 2003 - VDOT received two conceptual proposals: Fluor
Virginia, Inc. and STAR Solutions.
Feb. 2003 - VDOT moved both proposals to the first stage
of review under the PPTA process.
Mar. 2003 - The CTB voted to move both proposals to next
stage of review under the PPTA process.
Sept. 2003 - VDOT received detailed proposals from both
groups. The proposals were submitted to affected local governments with
a 60-day comment period. The I-81 PPTA Advisory Panel was created, and
its review meetings were held Oct. 2, Nov. 14 and Dec. 18.
Jan. 2004 - At the request of RAIL Solution a "video
conference" public hearing on the proposals was held simultaneously
in Harrisonburg, Salem, Bristol, and Richmond before the I-81 PPTA Advisory
Feb., 2004 - The Advisory Panel completed its evaluation
and recommended that the Commissioner enter into negotiations with STAR
Solutions, whose proposal is based on the separation of cars and trucks
along I-81. There were two votes against and nine votes for this recommendation.
Mar. 5, 2004 - Transportation Commissioner Philip Shucet
directed VDOT to enter negotiations with Star Solutions. According to
the VDOT website, Shucet stated that, "This approval in no way preempts
the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, requiring
the evaluation of reasonable alternatives, as well as an analysis of potential
social, environmental and economic impacts. NEPA serves as a basis for
making informed decisions prior to proceeding with any construction activities."
Solution Response to the scoping hearings,
February 24, 2004
Solution Analysis, January 21, 2004
Solution - Public Comment, January 16, 2004
of Roanoke Response, November 7, 2003
County Response and Letter,
October 29, 2003
County Response, October 29, 2003
June 7th at 10am
CSX's Innovative I-95 Corridor Proposal
Rail: Perpetually Underfunded
Tier 1 EIS
-Overview of DEIS.
-VDOT I-81 Site
-Write to VDOT>
-EIS Process Overview
-Letters to Editor
RAIL Solution's I-81 Transportation Issues & Priorities
Maximize Rail/ Minimize Road Expansion
-VA Gen. Assembly
-Analysis & Reports