Local warehouse company receives grant to expand rail transportation

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — A grant for a warehouse company in Rockingham County could help alleviate congestion on interstates across the state.

New cold storage facility in Rockingham County | Credit: WHSV

Interchange is in the process of building a new cold storage facility in Rockingham County. The first phase is set to be open in the next few weeks.

Have you seen the large concrete building go up right beside Interstate 81 at the southern end of Harrisonburg? That's the one.

Chris Thompson, vice president of business, said the growing food industry in the area needed the space.

"There's just a growing and increasing need for cold storage space," Thompson said. "Not only here, but nationally. But we were addressing a specific need locally."

Recently, they received a $450,000 grant from the Rail Industrial Access Program. The grant will support their plans to build a rail spur from the nearby Shenandoah Valley Railroad to the new facility.

Thompson said using the rail spur will help them take some trucks off the road, but it will also offer more economical shipping options for the companies they work with.

"When you ship by rail, it is much more economical on a sort of cost/ton per mile basis," Thompson said. "It also allows us to begin taking some of the trucks off 81, 64, and some of the other transportation corridors in the area."

For every rail car they use, Thompson said they can take about three trucks off the road. The goal is to have about 350 trucks taken off the road the first year. Thompson said the rail spur and railroad will also give them access to the Norfolk Southern and CSX rail lines, which will benefit them as well.

Construction on the rail spur is expected to begin within the next few months, and Thompson said the plan is to have it completed by the first quarter of 2020.