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Norfolk plans intermodal facility

March 05, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Norfolk Southern is poised to build southcentral Pennsylvania's second major intermodal freight transport facility, the Franklin County Area Development Corp. president announced Thursday morning.

L. Michael Ross said Norfolk Southern intends to develop a facility similar to the new one used by CSX in Guilford Township, Pa. The Norfolk Southern facility is proposed at Exit 3 of Interstate 81 in what will be the Antrim Commons Business Park. The exit is 3 miles north of the Maryland state line.

Once operational, the facility could spur the development of an additional travel lane on the highway, Ross said during his organization's annual meeting.

A past study highlighted a need for the added lane, Ross said. Officials also are looking to create an I-81 exit south of Chambersburg to better serve CSX, he said.

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Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce Director Bill Gour and Ross both emphasized that Norfolk Southern would make a significant investment in Franklin County, although specifics about number of jobs created and planned buildings are sketchy. The facility would allow train cargo to be transferred to tractor-trailers and vice versa.

"It creates a whole new hub is what it does," Gour said.

"I think they're looking at making improvements along the rail from Memphis (Tenn.) to Harrisburg (Pa.)," Ross said.

Two Baltimore-area companies, Atapco Properties Inc. and Chesapeake Real Estate Group, are developing Antrim Commons Business Park. Geoff Lilja, a partner in Chesapeake Real Estate Group, confirmed that they've talked with Norfolk Southern, but he said no deal is complete.

"As far as I know, they haven't settled on any land site," Lilja said.

The business park, which could expand well beyond its 200 acres if tentative land purchases go through, would be ideal for any rail operator because of its proximity to the main line and highway, Lilja said.

The slumping economy has delayed development of the business park, Lilja said.

Ross predicted that Antrim Commons Business Park will "be one of the premier development sites in the Commonwealth." That will motivate other businesses to open with the intention of serving business park tenants, he said.

"We're talking a lot of jobs," Gour said. "We're talking a lot of infrastructure."

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