Norfolk Southern Corp.’s most ambitious intermodal terminal to date, the $105 million, 380-acre Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility in Rossville, is making steady progress toward becoming a driving force for industrial development in Tennessee and Mississippi.
A Norfolk Southern rail line runs through Rossville near where the company is building the $105 million, 380-acre Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility to serve the Memphis area. The facility is to create as many as 6,200 jobs in the Memphis region.
Daily News File Photo/Lance Murphey
Grant Cothran, manager of national accounts in intermodal development for Norfolk Southern, and Tommy Jackson, senior vice president of industrial asset services for CB Richard Ellis Memphis, brought more than 300 logistics industry decision-makers up to speed on the project Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the third annual Southeast Freight Conference at the Hilton Memphis.
During their 45-minute presentation on the Crescent Corridor, Cothran and Jackson shared current highlights of Norfolk Southern’s $2.5 billion, multi-state initiative to establish a high-capacity intermodal freight rail route along 2,500 miles from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-Atlantic.
The Rossville terminal had its soft opening in July. By October, the completed Fayette County facility had a 200,000-volume lift capacity, 1,000 parking spaces for trailers, the latest in gate and terminal automation technology – which will reduce the waiting time to get into the facility and reduce emissions in the process – 12,150 feet of lift track, and 7,110 feet of support track.
“I want to emphasize that we have plenty of room for expansion,” Cothran said. “We have engineering plans drawn up and ready to go, and there’s no doubt in my mind that we will eventually expand.”
Norfolk Southern chose the Rossville location because of its potential to attract neighboring businesses and lower their operating costs, Cothran said.
“Proximity matters,” he said. “When companies choose where to locate their facility, industrial sites that are close to an intermodal terminal mean fewer highway miles traveled for every container. At the Rossville facility, companies have an opportunity to locate very close to our terminal.”
Neighboring industrial parks include the 3,600-acre Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park, at U.S. 72 and Cayce Road in Marshall County, Miss., and Gateway Global Logistics Center, the approximately 1,200-acre industrial component of the Piperton Hills Development, which spans Marshall and Fayette counties and is partially located within the Chickasaw Trail area.
Infrastructure improvements will offer additional advantages.
“The road connections are really improving, which is so crucial to intermodal,” Cothran said. “We can take care of our tracks, but once you get off our property, you need to be able to get your cargo exactly where it needs to be able to go within the larger region.”
To date, infrastructure enhancements have included grade improvements on Tenn. 57 and U.S. 72 and an extension of Tenn. 385 south from 57. By 2016, the Interstate 69/269 beltway should be completed, as should the Piperton Hills connector roads linking U.S. 72 with state highways 57, 196 and 302.
According to Norfolk Southern, the facility will create or benefit a projected 6,200 jobs by 2020 in the Memphis region, including Fayette County and North Mississippi. The company has created a website, thefutureneedsus.com, to keep residents informed about development progress and other relevant statistics.
It has the city’s industrial real estate professionals excited about the possibilities for new manufacturing and warehousing opportunities near the facility.
“Great economic growth has already started within this particular beltway,” Jackson said. “Part of it is related to Norfolk’s coverage expansion and part of it is related to the roadway and infrastructure expansion in the area. We really think that as the progression of Memphis’ industrial market continues to grow to the southeast, this is going to be the area that’s going to be the prime spot. Not that the rest of Memphis and the existing 200 million square feet of industrial product is going to dry up and go away – that won’t happen – but this is where the growth will occur.
“We feel pretty excited about it, and we feel pretty pumped that we’re working with Norfolk Southern. We think there are great opportunities that can benefit everyone.”