Bluefield receives USDA grant to continue research for bulk terminal facility

BLUEFIELD, WV (WOAY) – The City of Bluefield recently received a grant from the USDA to continue part of a long-term project to build a bulk terminal facility.

The City of Bluefield is entering the next stage of a lengthy project to create a thoroughbred bulk terminal facility, or a multi-inland port that can service trains and trucks.

According to Bluefield’s City Manager Dane Rideout, the city sits on a very strategic piece of railroad that is not being seen to its full potential. 

“We’re lucky here in Bluefield that we’re sitting on probably the most under-utilized strategic piece of railroad on the Norfolk Southern Heartland Corridor. And we’ve been studying this for about six years now, we’ve done an economic impact study,” Rideout said.

Their economic impact study found that the multi-million dollar project could create anywhere from 2,000-6,000 jobs. And the USDA just awarded a grant to the city to begin their next step, a feasibility study. 

“We’ve done a commodities flow study, meaning how much stuff is traveling on and off the rail. So that was step one. Second step was the economic impact study. How many jobs is it going to create, how much revenue it’s going to bring to the area. And the third step is [finding out] who would utilize it.”

Within 60 miles of Bluefield are roughly 1,500 CDL qualified truck drivers that have been out of work for sometime. Rideout says this project, if seen to completion, could have many of those truck drivers back in the line of work. The next phase of the project is to find interested parties that could utilize the terminal facility. 

“This is the next phase of that, that actually goes out and talks to those individuals on how this would impact their business of what they could put on or take off the rail from an economic standpoint. Job growth, expansion, things like that.”

If completed, the terminal facility could further-connect Bluefield to the Heartland Corridor between Chicago and Norfolk, as well as the Crescent Corridor that travels between Norfolk and Dallas. After the feasibility study, the city plans to ask for more federal grants and begin land acquisition for the project.

The project has an estimated budget of $4,000,000 which the city is hoping half of will come from federal grant money.