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White: State still owns Heartland Intermodal Gateway but nothing happening

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state still owns The Heartland Intermodal Gateway facility at Pritchard in Wayne County but there’s still nothing going on there.

Byrd White

State Transportation Secretary Byrd White told members of the House of Delegates Finance Committee last week the property was set to be sold as part of an online auction last year with the final bids scheduled to be received on April 2, 2020, but then the pandemic hit.

“It just kind of screwed up everything because everybody was in a tizzy about not knowing what was going to happen and what they were going to do,” White said.

He said the state has had “two or three” people who have said they’re interested in the property but is hasn’t gone beyond that. White said maybe that will change soon.

“Seems things have settled down now to some degree. We hope to able to sell it, rent it, do something with it to get it off our books,” White said.

State officials decided in July 2019 the facility wasn’t living up to its original promise and that it would need to be privatized.

HIG, which opened in 2015, was meant to provide a truck-to-rail transfer option along a 530-mile stretch of railway from the Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads through West Virginia to Chicago.

The project was a joint venture, with federal and state funding along with Norfolk Southern. The state’s funding was about $18 million of the nearly $35 million project. The rail company wanted 15,000 lifts a year minimum. There were just more than 500 lifts in the fiscal year 2019.

White said recent negotiations with Norfolk Southern gives the state a three-year window to do something with the property or NS could exercise its option to buy back the property. He told the finance committee whatever happens with the property it will have to be linked to rail service.

“It’s going to have be a rail facility of some type in order to satisfy Norfolk Southern and their options they have on the property,” White said.

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