The port of Baltimore also has hitched its fortunes to the canal expansion. It has entered into a long-term lease with Ports America to deepen the berth at Seagirt and to add new cranes there to accommodate the mammoth container ships that are expected to sail directly from Asia to the East Coast once the project is finished.
Dormsjo said Ports America was consulted about the change of plans for the intermodal facility.
The new plan would rely entirely on state and CSX money instead of on federal funds. Dormsjo said that would allow the state to proceed outside the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, which governs projects financed with federal dollars. The federally mandated process includes rigorous hearing and environmental impact study requirements and can lead to delays in projects that encounter public opposition.
He said, however, that public hearings and informational meetings would be held.
Councilman Edward L. Reisinger, whose 10th District includes the Mount Clare Yard, said he welcomed the project but also had concerns. A Morrell Park resident, the Democratic councilman said the yard was an industrial area with residential neighborhoods to the south and west.
"My concern is the ingress and the egress to the site," he said. "I don't want to see [truck traffic] go through a residential street."
Reisinger said he had discussed the site with the railroad before the site was chosen.
"CSX has committed that they will sit down with the community and the businesses to work on their grievances and concerns," he said.
The joint decision by the state and CSX appears to end any possibility that an intermodal facility would be built south of the city — a prospect already became iffy when CSX decided in June to terminate its agreements to purchase land in Elkridge. That site had run into particularly heavy resistance from nearby residents, local elected officials and state legislators.
Also under consideration were a site along Montevideo Road off U.S. 1 in Howard County, another near the state prison complex in Jessup, and a third in Beltsville in Prince George's County. Dormsjo said all the sites faced at least some opposition.