The funds will be used to raise tunnel clearances and modify other overhead obstructions to permit rail double-stack trains to move from the Hampton Roads region of Virginia to Columbus, Ohio, and on from there to a variety of other locations, including Chicago. The Heartland Corridor has been designated as a Project of National and Regional significance under the new SAFETEA LU (the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) legislation.
As explained by NS, when completed, the public-private partnership will permit movement of freight to and from the Virginia ports in order to expand capacity, improve service consistency and reduce customer availability times by as much as one day for intermodal traffic between the mid-Atlantic and Midwest as well as providing economic development opportunities for the three states.
Through the intermodal link, truck traffic will be reduced within Virginia as well as providing increased access to its Port. The 1,100-mile corridor will also link to the Port of Huntington Tri-State, which is claimed to be the largest inland port in the U.S. For Columbus, the Heartland Corridor will add importance of the new Rickenbacker Intermodal Hub being constructed.