Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced the proposal for the A-USA Corridor, a $231 million rail project program aimed at enhancing economic development infrastructure in central and southern Alabama.
According to a release from the governor’s office, the corridor’s first phase consists of a $71.6 million initiative to connect the Port of Mobile with the McCalla Intermodal Facility near Birmingham.
The 280-mile rail corridor will link mega economic development sites in Etowah, Shelby, Washington and Mobile Counties, with each totaling more than 1,000 acres. A 104-acre site will be developed in Jefferson County with up to a million square feet of warehousing under roof.
Ivey’s office stated that the Growing Alabama Tax Credit program has proved beneficial in expediting the work necessary to make the sites available for manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. Norfolk Southern is partnering with the state and local economic development authorities with a $5.7 million investment to the Etowah County Commission.
Ivey advised that the rail projects would serve to enhance commerce and economic development activity in the state.
“Working together with the Port in Mobile to build out our infrastructure to move the commerce for Alabama and the greater southeastern region of the country must be one of our top priorities,” stated Ivey. “Creating good port access to central Alabama is a key part of this initiative, and it can provide options for freight containers to reach new destinations inland, which our country has struggled with during the supply chain crisis. I am proud our state is looking ahead and investing in the Alabama-USA Corridor and the future jobs and economic opportunity it will bring.”
The first phase of the A-USA Corridor project consists of 12 specific track, signal and yard improvements on Norfolk Southern rail lines between Mobile, Selma and Birmingham.
Alabama State Port Authority director and CEO John C. Driscoll indicated that the projects would support ongoing economic development efforts.
“The Alabama Port Authority welcomes this vital project as we address rapid growth in the port’s container intermodal and freight business lines,” said Driscoll. “The Norfolk Southern rail improvements will bolster capacity, reliability, and market access through the Port of Mobile for regional supply chains.”
According to an economic impact report prepared by the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business, the A-USA Corridor from 2000 to 2020 contributed to $14.3 billion worth of investments and created 20,498 jobs in Alabama.
Regarding the corridor’s construction, the announcement stated, “During the construction phases of the project the A-USA Corridor … will create positive economic benefits for Alabama of $497.2 million in gross business activity, including $184.8 million in earnings to 4,247 direct and indirect Alabama workers. During construction $13.1 million in state and local taxes will be generated.”
The public-private partnership will see Norfolk Southern funding more than 50% of the project, with the State of Alabama investing $5 million into the project. According to the governor’s office, the remaining investment will be provided by the present and future federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program (CRISI) grants through the Alabama Department of Transportation, in partnership with Norfolk Southern.
Norfolk Southern president Alan Shaw expressed excitement in collaborating with the state on the ambitious rail project.
“The A-USA Corridor is an innovative public-private partnership that will strengthen the nation’s supply chain at a critical time and boost the regional economy,” said Shaw. “We look forward to working with Governor Ivey and the Port of Mobile to make the A-USA Corridor an engine for job creation in Alabama for years to come.”
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL