Six states working to coordinate freight, passenger movement along I-81

| 11/12/2008

Transportation officials in six states are working together to streamline freight and passenger movement in the Interstate 81 corridor from Tennessee to New York.

That interstate continues to be a major freight lane through several eastern states and the Federal Highway Administration has granted funding for studies in recent years to improve traffic flow and fight congestion.

Transportation officials from Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York signed a document in late October agreeing to coordinate any future highway and rail improvements to improve congestion problems in the I-81 corridor.

Mary Lynn Tischer, a spokeswoman from Virginia, told Land Line Magazine that the memorandum signed by the states does not pertain to specific projects. Under the agreement, states will continue to pursue their own improvement projects but will keep the corridor as a whole in mind, Tischer said.

Goals stated by the coalition include:

  • Share and coordinate freight truck and rail planning;
  • Coordinate plans and studies;
  • Form a steering committee of representatives from each state to provide guidance;
  • Identify long-term funding needs; and
  • Recommend highway, rail and technological improvements and identify public and private benefits of the improvements and costs.

“There is no single project or initiative that can solve today’s challenges along this corridor,” Tennessee Assistant Commissioner of Transportation Edward Cole stated in a press release that accompanied the memorandum.

“We must look for integrated highway and rail solutions to ensure that we can meet the needs of future generations who will depend on the I-81 corridor to connect our states and ensure regional commerce.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer