CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A railroad container facility in Wayne County could be leased before being auctioned following a state Port Authority decision.

Members on Tuesday voted to negotiate a short-term contract on operations of the Heartland Intermodal Gateway in Prichard. The facility, which opened in December 2015, loses $500,000 a year according to state Transportation Secretary Byrd White.

Gov. Jim Justice eliminated funding for the state Public Port Authority in this year’s budget. Funding for the facility is expected to run out before the end of August.

West Virginia Legislature

Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne

The facility was pitched as an economic tool to offload freight from trucks and trains for export around the world. Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, said the facility was not designed for the state to run it.

“This should have been privatized,” he said. “I think this is a good move to move it towards where it needs to be. I have no problem with the Port Authority taking the action that they’re doing.”

Plymale added he sees the facility as important for regional growth.

“I have no problem moving toward a lease or a lease-purchase or however they want to move forward with this,” he said. “I think anything that brings economic viability to Wayne County I’m going to support.”

Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Buffalo is the facility’s largest user.

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