TO: ORDC Commissioners
FROM: Jim Seney
DATE: August 10, 2005
RE: Integration of Ohio into Port of Philadelphia Rapid System
Rapid System is an acronym for Regional Agile Port Intermodal Distribution System which is a “public/private initiative to improve the reliability and security of freight transportation and logistics for high-priority, time-sensitive cargo in military and commercial markets to meet national defense and economic imperative.”
The Rapid System is a coordinated effort of the U.S. Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Pennsylvania state government and commercial stakeholders centered around the strategic Port of Philadelphia. The Rapid System network includes private-sector military suppliers, the Pennsylvania National Guard and federal military logistics facilities located in Pennsylvania (see attached PowerPoint information packet).
The commitment of Norfolk Southern Corporation to build a major intermodal facility at Rickenbacker and the possibility that CSX Transportation, Inc. may follow suit provides us the opportunity to organize an extended Rapid System concept by incorporating Ohio defense contractors, National Guard units and federal logistics centers in Ohio into an expanded Port of Philadelphia Rapid System. The fact that the recent federal transportation bill authorized $90 million for modernization of the Heartland Corridor from Rickenbacker to the Port of Norfolk Virginia only serves, in my opinion, to strengthen Ohio’s position within this proposed system.
Through the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC), I have had exploratory discussions with the Howland Group which is acting as the project manager for the Port of Philadelphia Rapid System. There is a great interest in pursuing these discussions further and expanding the Philadelphia system into Ohio.
I propose that ORDC pursue this idea through a preliminary exploratory phase and organize an evaluation of the possibilities, advantages and inventory of facilities that would be included in such a project as well as the recommended next steps that would be necessary to develop a strategic plan for incorporation into the Rapid System.
It would also be my recommendation to the Commission that we suspend for two years any further consideration of the sale of the Panhandle Rail Line until our preliminary exploration phase is completed.
The Panhandle Rail Line runs from Columbus to Pittsburgh and from there connects to rail lines that run directly across Pennsylvania to the Port of Philadelphia, some of which are owned by the State of Pennsylvania. As a publically-owned rail line, there is a distinct possibility that we could run multiple trains in the corridor to the Port of Philadelphia. This could create a strategic advantage for Ohio within a Rapid network. Until we completely understand all of the strategic ramifications of the Panhandle, suspension of any sale is warranted.
Note: Susan Howland, President of the Howland Group, will be attending the retreat at Darby Creek Metro Park on August 30th. She will be giving a presentation on the RAPID System project.
attachment (RAPID System)