The project shortened the previous route by 200 miles by allowing for a more direct route through Southern West Virginia, saving considerable transportation time and costs.
But with the advent of the Panama Canal expansion the Prichard facility could prove to be at a significantly enhanced transportation crossroads if it also could service container-on-barge operations.
It would require a feasibility study and more public/private investment in the facility itself, along with perhaps the further dredging of the currently navigable section of the Big Sandy between Prichard and the confluence with the Ohio River.
And one more transportation enhancement could put the Prichard Intermodal Facility on the national overland map, and that's the completion of Interstate 73 from the facility to the junction of Interstate 64, even if it's just a spur route initially.
That's because the decision-making process by developers specializing in warehousing and distribution typically view direct interstate highway access as a sine qua non for site selection.
By making these improvements a priority, West Virginia could take away rail-borne business from the Heartland Terminal, near Columbus, Ohio, compete for river-borne business with the Port of Pittsburgh and, perhaps, strategically forestall the proposed development of a new intermodal facility in Virginia.
It would be yet another return on our massive investment in modern transportation infrastructure that could further diversify the state's economy -- the North Star for sustainable economic development.
The time to act is now.
Swint is a commercial property broker in Charleston and political activist.