The Heartland Corridor of Norfolk Southern Corp. has officially opened for business. The project is a public-private partnership between the railroad, the states of Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio, and the federal government. The aim was to create the shortest and fastest route for double-stack container trains moving between the Port of Virginia and the Midwest. According to NS, the new routing improves transit time from Norfolk, Va. to Chicago to three days from four, and is nearly 250 miles shorter than the previous option. In constructing the corridor, NS raised vertical clearances on 28 tunnels and removed 24 overhead obstacles on one of its main lines connecting the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest. Beginning in Oct. of 2007, construction involved the modification of 5.7 miles of tunnels through roof excavation and linear replacement, arched roof notching and track lowering and realignment. Dating back to the late 19th century, the track has historically been used primarily for the movement of coal. NS marked the opening of the corridor on Sept. 9 with the departure of a train bound for the Midwest, carrying 148 double-stack containers.
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