Largest Construction Project in Decade, Improves Service for Shippers.
The Port of Cleveland held a ribbon-cutting today to mark the launch of a new rail loop that will provide better and more efficient service at the port, and improve access to markets throughout North America.
“We needed to reinvent the way the Port connects shippers to railroads,” said Port CEO Will Friedman. “With our rail expansion we have the opportunity to provide improved and lower-cost services to shippers, expand our geographic reach, grow our customer base, and spur job creation.”
Slightly more than a mile long, the rail loop connects the two sides of the port’s rail system for the first time, allowing cargo to move on either CSX or Norfolk Southern, the two Class 1 railroads that serve the port. The loop doubles the port’s rail capacity and will give more shippers opportunities to use the Port to transport larger volumes to more markets.
“The rail project demonstrates how the Port’s work is tracking with our strategic plan to make infrastructure improvements that will improve our competitiveness, increase cargo activity, and bring more jobs to the port and the region,” said Port Chair Bob Smith.
The loop is the Port Authority’s largest construction project in a decade and was built with help from the Ohio Department of Development, which provided approximately $3 million for the $4.5 million project.“This new rail loop should signal to the residents of Cuyahoga County the forward-thinking accomplishments of the Port’s new leadership to revitalize the Port,” said Ronald Rasmus, a Commissioner of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, and Chairman of The Great Lakes Towing Company headquartered in Cleveland. The Commission promoted and supported the ODOD funding of the project.
Cleveland Commercial Railroad Company (CCR), which operates 23 miles of railroad in the area, created Cleveland Harbor Belt Railroad as a subsidiary to operate and market the new rail loop. The new railroad handled its first move this week, with the transport of more than 240 metric tons of generators via rail to American Electric Power in Ironton, Ohio.
“We’re excited to help manage and market the Port’s new rail loop,” said CCR’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Brown. “Cleveland’s Port is becoming a hub of commercial activity, and the new rail loop will provide even greater access for shippers moving cargo to and from points in North American and beyond.”
Smith, Friedman, Rasmus and Brown rode on the front deck of the new Cleveland Harbor Belt Railroad switch engine as it made a ceremonial trip along the track and broke through a red ribbon.