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Mobile MPO votes to support Port Authority’s plan to transport containers to Montgomery via rail

A plan to increase railroad transportation from the Port of Mobile to other parts of the state cleared another hurdle yesterday.

On Wednesday, The Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board voted unanimously to support the Alabama State Port Authority’s plan to move containers coming into the Port of Mobile to Montgomery via rail—a plan that will dramatically decrease the number of container trucks on I-65, the MPO says.

“We identified this as a possibility years ago,” Tom Piper, Senior Transportation Planner for the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission and incoming Director of Transportation, said. “We’ve been in the background, saying ‘we need to do this.’ And now they’ve gotten federal funds to do it.”

The Alabama Port Authority will create a new intermodal transfer facility in Montgomery and will expand freight rail service from the port to the facility in Montgomery, allowing for more rail transport of containers. Officials say that this will reduce the number of trucks on I-65, which is currently over capacity. According to the Port Authority, one 7,000-foot container train can carry the load of approximately 240 trucks. However, not all containers headed to Montgomery will be transported that way, Piper said.

The Port Authority is partnering with CSX Transportation on the creation of the facility. CSX will be able to recoup their investment in the facility through a state tax credit program. Construction of the facility is expected to cost around $67.3 million and the accompanying improvements to the port and railroad are expected to cost $80 million. The money for this project is coming from the federal Omnibus Appropriations Act for the year and the port’s own revenue, the Port Authority says.

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