CSX to Build Truck-Transfer Hub in McKees Rocks and Stowe
17 October 2013
By Jon Schmitz
Long-standing revitalization efforts in McKees Rocks received a
major boost Thursday when CSX Corp. announced that it planned to
build a $50 million intermodal freight center there.
The center, a transfer point for freight from trucks to rail cars,
would be on the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Yard, a
strip of land east of Island Avenue straddling McKees Rocks and
Stowe under the McKees Rocks Bridge.
Officials believe the center will energize development of a
nascent business park on adjacent land and stimulate redevelopment
of nearby business districts.
"This ... is the biggest missing piece of a development puzzle
that we have been assembling for over a decade," said Taris Vrcek,
executive director of McKees Rocks Community Development Corp.
"It's nothing short of a dream come true for us."
"This is the kind of development project that can pave the way for
more growth," McKees Rocks Mayor Jack Muhr said.
PG graphic: CSX intermodal center
CSX said the facility will tie into its National Gateway project,
an $850 million public-private partnership to clear a corridor for
double-stack trains. The railroad announced last month that the
first phase was completed between its intermodal terminal in
Chambersburg, Pa., and a hub in northwest Ohio.
"The proposed facility will create transportation saving
opportunities by giving Western Pennsylvania shippers direct
intermodal freight rail access, allowing for the shift of
long-haul freight from highway to rail and strengthening the
transportation infrastructure serving the region's economy," the
company said in a statement announcing the site.
McKees Rocks CDC has been working to develop the former rail yard
since 1988. It has broken ground for a 50-acre business park that
will have five rehabilitated industrial buildings and several new
The CSX facility is "the perfect complement" to the business park,
likely to increase demand for the space, Mr. Vrcek said.
It also will boost a planned $2 million makeover of the business
district on lower Chartiers Avenue, he said. "Lower Chartiers is
going to undergo a pretty dramatic face-lift in coming years,
really re-creating the heart of this community."
Officials hope that the development will bring residential growth
as well. "We want the folks who are coming here and working here
to live here. You're talking beautiful homes for under $50,000,
move-in ready," Mr. Vrcek said.
CSX said the center will create about 360 construction jobs, 40
permanent on-site jobs and 40 positions for short-distance
The company said it expects to complete planning, design,
permitting and property acquisition for the 65- to 70-acre site
next year and hopes to start two years of construction in 2015.
CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said the company owns more than
two-thirds of the property required for the project and expects
about a dozen additional parcels will be acquired for terminal
development and roadway access. "Contacts with those property
owners are beginning immediately," he said.
The Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Yard operated for more
than a century but began to decline in the 1950s, Mr. Vrcek said.
It was primarily a site for maintenance of steam locomotives, and
when the railroad industry transitioned to diesel, the site became
obsolete. By the mid-1980s, only a skeleton crew remained there,
The new facility will enable businesses throughout the region to
expand and efficiently deliver products to the global marketplace,
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.
"The CSX project is a public-private endeavor and illustrates the
great things that can be accomplished when business, the community
and government work together," said state Sen. Wayne Fontana,
D-Brookline, whose district includes the site.
Jon Schmitz: email@example.com or 412-263-1868.