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Antrim Township Supervisors to back intermodal rail project

October 16, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- After an hour of open discussion with Norfolk Southern, Atapco and CHA Engineering, Antrim Township's Board of Supervisors voted Friday morning to lend written support to the company's intermodal rail project.

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

Township Manager Brad Graham arranged the meeting so that supervisors could speak directly with representatives of the company.

The board was hesitant in September to back the project, agreeing to hold off sending a letter of support to the company until speaking with its representatives.

Norfolk Southern requested the letter for a federal grant application.

Roger Bennett, director of industrial development with Norfolk Southern, began the meeting Friday with a project overview, followed by directly addressing a laundry list of concerns compiled by Township Roadmaster Paul Minnich.

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Some of the township's concerns could not be answered by Norfolk Southern or its associates, Bennett said.

"There are still some things we need to work through regarding the maintenance of the future Hykes (Road) overpass, changes to Hykes Road as well as the Milnor Road closing," he said.

Much to the board's chagrin, Bennett did say that ownership and maintenance of the bridge over Hykes would be conveyed to the township.

"What if we own it and you maintain it?" Supervisor Sam Miller asked.

While Norfolk Southern owns and maintains many bridges along the corridor, those are railway bridges not roadway bridges, Bennett said.

Traffic was still a major concern of the board.

The supervisors asked for some information that would mitigate fears of exhausted intersections, traffic jams and congested rights of way.

Engineer Robert Badger with CHA said traffic studies revealed minimal impact at the Hykes Road and Williamsport Pike intersection as well as at the light at Commerce Avenue.

Atapco Vice President of Development Pat Coggins said Atapco's proposed business park likely will cause more traffic woes than the intermodal facility and that some of the traffic mitigation requested by the township could be part of the Atapco project's future.

Not much was resolved at the meeting, Supervisor James Byers said.

Byers, the only supervisor to vote against backing Norfolk Southern, said he fears the project will bring more consequences to the township than benefits.

Graham said Antrim Township will schedule another meeting with the company soon.

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