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Pennsylvania’s I-99 Corridor Location Gives Area Logistics Advantage

Read about transportation in the I-99 Corridor, including interstates, Norfolk Southern Railway and University Park Airport.

By Kevin Litwin on June 30, 2015

Companies in Pennsylvania’s I-99 region, which includes Bedford, Blair and Centre counties, can take advantage to ready access to four major interstates – the region’s namesake Interstate-99 and I-70, I-76 and I-80. The four interstates place the region’s trucking operations and distribution centers within two hours of markets including Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and just three hours from the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metroplex.
Because of interstate availability, the I-99 Corridor has attracted significant logistics and distribution operations, including those of retailers REI and Wal-Mart in Bedford County. REI, the Washington State-based outdoor recreation chain, opened its 520,000-square-foot operation, its first east coast distribution facility, in 2006, selecting Bedford County from among 80 competing locations.
Wal-Mart opened a grocery distribution operation in Bedford County in 1998. The 830,000-square-foot facility has exceeded initial employment estimates, and now employs more than 730 workers.
The family-owned Sheetz Inc. convenience store chain distributes food and other items to 470 stores in six states from its Altoona headquarters.
“The I-99 Corridor is within a 250-mile radius of several large metropolitan areas such as New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. I call Interstate 99 an ‘enabler’ for our area,” says Liz Ward, analyst with Ward Transport & Logistics in Blair County. “By ‘enabler’ I mean the highway’s recent completion has enabled our region to receive increased exposure and access, which means the entire region appears more on the radar screen of out-of-state businesses.”
Ward Transport & Logistics, founded in 1931, is based in Altoona and employs 1,300 people. The company hauls general commodities that include many manufactured products. Ward says the I-99 Corridor is in an ideal geographic location.
“The Corridor features about 50 industrial parks and distribution centers, many of which are located directly off I-99 at key interchanges,” she says. “In addition, in comparison to metropolitan areas in other states, our region offers skilled labor at lower costs. along with affordable business and warehousing occupancy rates.”
Connected by Rail and Air
The I-99 Corridor is situated on the main line of the Norfolk Southern Railway and has two short line operators, Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad and Everett Railroad, providing many of its industrial parks and other facilities with rail service.
The region includes two airports with commercial service, Altoona-Blair County Airport and University Park Airport, and the Bedford County Airport in Bedford, which has a 5,005 runway and 18 hangers total.
Altoona-Blair County Airport is a public facility in Martinsburg that averages 65 general aviation operations per day, including daily jet service to Pittsburgh via Sun Air Express. Altoona-Blair County has several existing private hangars and is in the process of constructing more. University Park Airport in State College, just a few miles from Penn State’s flagship campus, is served by Delta, US Airways Express and United Express.
“Traffic from the university is a big reason for our success, but we also serve corporations and individuals throughout the entire area and beyond,” says Bryan Rodgers, director of University Park Airport. “About 280,000 passengers utilize us each year, and we play a key role in helping the I-99 Corridor achieve economic success.”
$200M Economic Impact
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, University Park Airport has an annual economic impact of more than $200 million annually on Centre County and the I-99 Corridor. The airport offers daily service to four hubs, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., where passengers can connect to hundreds of national and international destinations. On average, the airport schedules five daily flights to-and-from Philadelphia, three to D.C., and two each to Chicago and Detroit.
In addition, FedEx has a small package facility on the airport grounds and has cargo flights to Pittsburgh six days a week.
“Our runway can accommodate jets up to Boeing 757s, and we have land available for more corporate clients to build hangars for their private aircraft,” Rodgers says. “University Park Airport is one of the many solid transportation components along the I-99 Corridor, and we are one of many reasons why companies should consider locating in this region.”

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