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Local support key to intermodal site, exec warns

September 27, 2007

The LaPorte area has about everything necessary for an intermodal facility, the director of CSX Intermodal said during the annual Indiana Logistics Summit in Indianapolis yesterday.

The key to landing an intermodal project is community support, Michael Gallis said.

However, while economic developers and other officials in the northwest Indiana city back the idea, many landowners and others living near proposed sites do not, the Post-Tribune of Merrillville reported.

Indeed, people protesting the idea mingled at the summit with the usual mix of transportation industry representatives. The protesters said they attended to gather information because local officials have offered little of it.

Intermodal facilities shift container freight between railroads and trucks. The facilities are considered economic development plums for the hundreds and even thousands of direct jobs they create as well as for their potential to attract companies and stimulate local businesses.

Evansville and Terre Haute officials also are rushing to line up support for intermodal facilities.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told the gathering that a difficulty in the proposed LaPorte project is attracting the interest of a railroad to serve as a pillar. He said he is involved every day to help bring a facility to LaPorte.

People should understand that while new infrastructure projects will push some residents aside, the state must pursue them in order to maintain overall economic momentum, Daniels said.

"There are costs to do nothing," he said. "In this state, we're going to solve this."

Gallis, the CSX railroad executive, said LaPorte is near a major city, is on a high-density main rail line and has excellent highway access-factors necessary to justify an intermodal project. Such a project also needs at least 200 acres, he said.
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