Advocacy group promotes the ‘Steel Interstate’

February 23, 2016

By Hank Hayes, Times News

KINGSPORT — An advocacy group is out there trying to keep the idea alive that rail can be an economic game changer if it is capitalized.Website Insert Out of the Box Thinking copy

The group is Rail Solution, which in particular has a vision for the Interstate 81/​Interstate 40 corridor — that it could become a so-called “Steel Interstate” pilot project ferrying truck loads and featuring high-speed passenger trains.

The Salem, Va.-based group points out Norfolk Southern (NS) has about 1,000 miles of rail line between Harrisburg, Pa., and Memphis.

“NS is key to getting this done … Upgrading, double-tracking, grade separating, and electrifying this line would provide an excellent demonstration of the Steel Interstate concept,” says a Rail Solution talking points document.

Former Kingsport Alderman Ken Marsh is a Rail Solution board member trying to keep rail investment on government’s and the public’s radar screen.

“We’ve tried very hard to work with Norfolk Southern Railroad, and sat down with their strategic planning people … They are not willing to reach out, invest the capital, take the risk of (building) a Steel Interstate type situation,” Marsh pointed out.

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