Greencastle-area officials hesitant about Intermodal Rail facility

Borough of Greencastle and Antrim Township withholds support awaiting further information

Borough of Greencastle and Antrim Township withholds support awaiting further information

September 16, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The proposed Norfolk Southern Intermodal Rail facility in Antrim Township might have the support of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, but Greencastle-area officials are still hesitant to get behind the project.

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

Both the Borough of Greencastle and Antrim Township were asked to lend their support of the project via a letter.

The letters would have been used by Norfolk Southern in its application for $300 million of federal stimulus money, according to a Sept. 4 e-mail by Herbert Smith, government relations director.

The borough council did not issue a letter of support, following a recommendation by Councilman Harry Foley that it hold off on such a declaration until the council better understood the project's impact.


Antrim also did not submit the letter, but rather after lengthy debate, pushed the issue into future discussions.

Members of the Antrim Township board of supervisors aired a list of concerns at a special meeting this week, devoted to the Norfolk Southern project.

In no particular order, the supervisors waded through more than a page of potential complications from the project, compiled by Township Roadmaster Paul Minnich.

The group discussed perceived traffic increases, road conditions, infrastructure and environmental problems on Hykes Road, Milnor Road and Commerce Avenue, all which Minnich felt would come to pass should Norfolk Southern build its facility.

"No one is looking at this (project) from our perspective," Minnich said. "I think these are all legitimate concerns."

Traffic has been at the heart of discussions by both municipalities, with many elected officials agreeing the facility would increase the number of trucks and diverted vehicles using roads in the area.

Few of the supervisors believed the traffic estimates projected on the wall by Township Administrator Brad Graham.

Graham said the number he shared with the board came from traffic studies by CHA Inc., the engineer for Norfolk Southern.

Foley said he also did not believe the project would take trucks off the roads surrounding Greencastle.

While the facility would not be in the borough, council members questioned whether rail bridges at Madison, Franklin and Baltimore streets could handle the increased freight.

Foley questioned if the bridges could accommodate the faster, heavier traffic. Mayor Robert Eberly questioned if a potential additional track would be added through the borough, while Councilwoman Michele Emmett expressed concern about the lack of proposed fences around the tracks.

Both municipal boards determined that more information was needed from Norfolk Southern before either could officially support the project.

While they continue waiting, a company representative was on hand Wednesday morning to answer questions of the Franklin County Council of Governments, of which both municipalities are members.

Roger Bennett, director of industrial development for Norfolk Southern, gave the council an overview of the project, most of which was presented at the Aug. 27 information session.

Bennett did not directly address any concerns of the supervisors or borough council.

The Herald-Mail Articles