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Norfolk reps hear concerns about Intermodal Rail facility

August 27, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Neighbors of the proposed Norfolk Southern Intermodal Rail Facility in Antrim Township got a chance to ask questions of the company Thursday at an informational meeting.

The rail giant has proposed building a $95 million intermodal freight transfer station near Exit 3 of Interstate 81 as part of its Crescent Corridor Initiative to boost rail freight in the eastern United States.

Dozens of representatives from Norfolk Southern and its engineer, Albany, N.Y.-based CHA Inc., filled Green Grove Gardens from 4 to 7 p.m. to answer questions and walk residents through a host of information.

Posters and flat-screen televisions projected facts and figures about the facility as well as promises of air quality, noise standards, minimal environmental impact and community benefits.

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Some residents came to the meeting with questions or concerns. Others came simply to see the project about to be built in their community.

Many concerns centered on the closure of Milnor Road.

Susan Terpay, Norfolk Southern's director of public relations, said the company plans to turn the existing Milnor Road into two cul-de-sacs, one off of Williamson Avenue and one off of U.S. 11.

John Showalter of Milnor Road said he questioned what benefits the 200-acre facility would bring to neighboring agriculture. A farmer who makes his living selling produce at a roadside stand, Showalter said he fears the terminal will adversely affect his business.

"My concern is what will happen when the road closes," he said. "I guess I'm going to have to go around to Hykes Road to reach my stand near Williamson Avenue."

CHA Inc. estimated that an additional car every 40 seconds will also be forced to take Hykes Road during peak hours.

Grant Martin said his great-grandchildren live on Hykes Road and he worries for their safety if traffic on the road increases.

"Are they going to have to take their lives into their hands to cross the road?" he said. "Things have changed enough here already."

CHA Associate John Hickok said the additional traffic on Hykes would not result from Norfolk Southern, but from motorists who would have otherwise traveled Milnor Road.

While Norfolk Southern was required to host the informational meeting to gather feedback for itself and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, it also hoped to provide accurate information on the project, Terpay said.

Sheldon and Martha Martin of Milnor Road said they came hoping that what they heard about Milnor Road was not true. The couple heard that Norfolk Southern planned to close the road before it reached their house.

Norfolk Southern said its maps indicate the cul-de-sac would reach to the Martin's property.

Martha Martin, who lives adjacent to the site, said outside of that rumor, they did not have any other concerns about the property.

"It wasn't our idea, but what do you do?" she said of being neighbor to a freight transfer facility.

Attorney Jonathan Rinde of Manko Gold Katcher & Fox LLP near Philadelphia said Norfolk Southern will address written comments submitted by residents Thursday, making changes to its plans if necessary.

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