West Virginia regulators will consider a proposal that would lease a state-owned railroad container transfer facility to a private company.
The Herald-Dispatch reports the West Virginia Public Port Authority’s board of directors is set to meet Tuesday in Charleston on a proposal for the Heartland Intermodal Gateway facility in Prichard.
The $32 million facility opened in 2015 on 76 acres donated by Norfolk Southern railroad. Owned by the Public Port Authority, it is designed to move containers more efficiently by rail through a double-stack method while offering a cheaper alternative to gas-guzzling trucks.
There are dozens of intermodal facilities across North America. This is the first in West Virginia. The nearest such facility is 140 miles to the west in Georgetown, Kentucky. Officials had hoped the terminal could mirror the growth generated by other facilities in places like Front Royal, Virginia, and Greer, South Carolina.
But in the fiscal 2020 budget, Gov. Jim Justice defunded the Public Port Authority, which is part of the state Department of Transportation.
According to a public meeting notice on the secretary of state’s website, the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting is to discuss the possible leasing of the facility “in light of the Authority’s current lack of funding ...”
Huntington Area Development Council President and CEO David Lieving told the newspaper that the Justice administration “has been less than satisfied with the level of activity at the inland port in Prichard. The governor made that very clear to me.”
A spokesman for Justice declined comment Monday.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Buffalo is currently the railroad facility’s largest user.