State Pulls $30 Million from Rail Facility Project in Major Victory for Community Activists

Cargo transfer operation considered critical for port growth, been in works but stalled for years

By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

State officials have abandoned plans for a rail cargo facility in an economically depressed corner of West Baltimore, amid vocal opposition from residents and diminishing political will.

With the state withdrawing more than $30 million in funding, the CSX Transportation facility envisioned for the city's Morrell Park neighborhood will not be built, Maryland Transportation Secretary James T. Smith said Thursday.

CSX and the port of Baltimore had been counting on using the facility to help move additional cargo. The port is seeking to be the destination for Asian containers coming through a widening Panama Canal, and the facility would have allowed CSX to move trains with double-stacked containers.

About $1 million in state funding has already been spent on planning for the project, and Smith said he regrets the state spent so much time on the so-called "intermodal" project— about five years in all. But the community opposition was too fierce to overcome, he said.

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