Pittsburgh-N.O. barge service shelved

In a decision unrelated to the hurricane that hit New Orleans in August, a Pittsburgh-area intermodal company has canceled plans to launch a new container-on-barge service between Pittsburgh and the Big Easy.

The service was to begin in May, with containers loaded on barges in Leetsdale, 14 miles south of Pittsburgh on the Ohio River, and sent on the 23-day trip to New Orleans.

The problem was funding. CSG Co. LLC, which has a terminal in Leetsdale, had pitched the project to the Port of Pittsburgh, who met with CSG officials to work out the details over the past year. 

“We thought they would do it the right way, and that they were in this for the long haul, as a growth business,” said James McCarville, director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. “There were delays initially, and then they informed us that they were unable to line up the long-term financing.”

McCarville said they strongly believe that container-on-barge service at the port can work, and he is talking with other possible investors.

“Time is on our side,” he said. “With road congestion increasing, and the cost of fuel going up, COB is making so much more sense. As we’ve said before, it’s not a question of will it work, but when it will work. We’re still operating on that philosophy.”

McCarville said a lot of the groundwork for COB service has already been done, as a study for the Port of Pittsburgh (financed by the Maritime Administration) has outlined the steps to be taken to develop such a concept.

Attempts to reach Buddy Jones, president of CSG, were unsuccessful.    

                              — P. Glass 

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