By stacking two containers, a double-stack train can haul twice the amount of freight, resulting in a number of environmental and economic benefits for Pennsylvania. CSX Transportation
This article appeared in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine
Volume XXXVIII, Number 1 - Winter 2012
CSX Transportation and a series of public sector partners, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have undertaken an $850 million project, the National Gateway, to create a doublestack cleared freight rail network on CSX Transportation lines between Mid- Atlantic points and the Midwest. As part of the project, in 2009 the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded funds for the National Gateway. The project, focusing on the existing rail network between the Franklin County seat of Chambersburg and North Baltimore, Ohio, will provide increased vertical clearance of existing tunnels and bridges for domestic container rail traffic. Ultimately, it will improve rail traffic flow throughout the nation by increasing the use of doublestack trains, creating a more efficient rail route.
In Pennsylvania, the project requires alterations to bridges and tunnels associated with two historic railroads now part of the CSX Transportation rail system that make up the National Gateway corridor, the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad, Pittsburgh Division, and the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (P&LE) Railroad. Completed in 1871, the B&O's Pittsburgh Division, the first major route through Bedford, Somerset, and Fayette Counties, was critical to the region's late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century transportation and industrial development. Nicknamed the "Little Giant," the P&LE was successful from its inception in 1879 to its demise in the 1980s because of its small size and the large amount of tonnage associated with the steel industry that traversed its tracks between Pittsburgh and Youngstown, Ohio. These railroads, along with other lines that crossed the Commonwealth, opened up Pennsylvania as a national gateway, resulting in economic, cultural, and physical impacts and changes to the landscapes and communities through which they passed.
Six late nineteenth- to early twentieth-century tunnels associated with the B&O's Pittsburgh Division will be reconstructed or removed to accommodate the project. Satisfying the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to mitigate impacts on historic properties, CSX Transportation - a subsidiary of CSX Corporation, a leading supplier of rail transportation in the United States - documented the tunnels prior to their reconstruction. As part of a public education effort, CSX Transportation, in association with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), produced two webisodes, History in the Making: Pennsylvania and the Rail Industry and Our Future in the Making: Pennsylvania and the Rail Industry, highlighting the history of railroading in the Keystone State and discussing the current and future use of the National Gateway corridor. The webisodes are illustrated with historic and contemporary photographs and short video clips chronicling the importance of railroads to regional, state, and national heritage.
The B&O constructed the Benford Tunnel in 1903 as part of the Fort Hill Low Grade, which improved freight movement between the Somerset County communities of Fort Hill and Confluence. A. D. Marble and Company
The Sand Patch Tunnel was opened in 1913 north of an earlier tunnel to accommodate increased rail traffic and relieve congestion on the B&O Railroad's Pittsburgh Division. A. D. Marble and Company
A scene along the corridor of the National Gateway in Somerset County. A. D. Marble and Company