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Mayor Rawlings-Blake's Panama Canal Visit Could Lead To Big Business in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Big plans for the port. The mayor just returned from visiting the Panama Canal with Vice President Joe Biden. Improvements being made there will have huge impacts on Baltimore.

Linh Bui sat down with the mayor one-on-one.

The mayor just returned from her two-day trip to Panama.  She says the new canal is incredible and could mean big business and more jobs for Baltimore.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined the vice president and others to see the Panama Canal expansion.

Its completion in 2015 could be a big boost for the United States.

"We have the possibility of expanding our economy by hundreds of billions of dollars over the near term," Biden said.

Back from her trip, the mayor sat down with WJZ and says Baltimore can benefit if it's ready.

"Baltimore is ahead of the game. And I want to make sure that we stay there, so we're able to take advantage of the expansion of the canal and expand job opportunities for people right here at home," Rawlings-Blake said.

At the Port of Baltimore, deep dredging, big cranes and widened docks are in place.

But the mayor says an intermodal facility or CSX transfer station is critical in getting more cargo out to the rest of the country.

There are plans to build the transfer station in Southwest Baltimore. However, there's been opposition from some council members and people in the community.

In Morrell Park, signs in front of homes and businesses read, "Don't Get Railroaded, Stop CSX."

There are concerns about pollution, noise and traffic.

Councilmember Edward Reisinger says build the facility somewhere else.

"You're looking at 300 to 350 trucks a day, and that really concerns me that some of these trucks are going through the neighborhoods," Reisinger said.

But the mayor says the facility is vital and she's confident they'll reach a solution.

"There's a way for the project to be a win-win. A win for jobs, a win for the Port of Baltimore, a win for CSX--and more importantly, a win for that community," the mayor said.

Right now, there are more than 100,000 jobs at the Port of Baltimore.  That could double with the Panama Canal expansion.

The mayors of Philadelphia and Atlanta were also part of the trip to Panama.

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