It’s nowhere near an ocean, but plans are in the works to turn Prichard, an unincorporated crossroads in the mountains of West Virginia, into an international port. Prichard, about 20 miles southwest of Huntington, is one of several locations nationwide where state and business leaders are building or planning inland ports — terminals away from the coasts where goods can be moved among trucks, trains and even planes. A facility opened near Dallas in September, and ground has been broken for one near San Antonio. Driving the push are the 50 million containers projected to go through U.S. seaports each year by 2020, up from 20 million in 2000 and a million in 1970, according to Scott Hercik, transportation adviser to the Appalachian Regional Commission. The inland port in Prichard, and another in Roanoke, Va. — both still in the developmental stages — are part of the five-year Heartland Corridor project that in 2005 won $143 million in federal funding, according to a report on inland ports by the Tioga Group, a freight transportation consulting firm. Every major railroad company is building or considering versions of them, said Robert Harrison, deputy director of the Center for Transportation Research of the University of Texas at Austin. The initiatives could help keep jobs in the country by allowing companies with U.S. facilities to better compete, Harrison said.
Shipping Ports Spring Up Inland