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Berkeley Co. Planning Commission advances two projects

February 28, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Planning Commission voted Monday night to advance a railroad’s plan to build a 1.3-mile rail spur to serve the Essroc cement plant near Martinsburg and also gave final approval for the Macy’s fulfillment center project.

After receiving no comment during a public hearing, commissioners voted unanimously to advance the rail-spur project proposed by Winchester & Western Railroad to the preliminary plan stage of the county’s review/approval process.

The estimated $6 million spur includes a railroad bridge that will cross over U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg. The project is expected to take four to six months to complete, according to Brian Costenbader, Essroc’s senior director of logistics and project engineer Richard W. Klein of Alpha Associates Inc.

Klein told commissioners that the project about 1 mile south of the U.S. 11 intersection with Apple Harvest Drive is expected to begin this spring.

Capitol Cement was purchased by Essroc in 2002. Essroc, headquartered in Nazareth, Pa., is a member company of Italcementi Group, which is one of the world’s largest cement producers.

The rail spur is needed to ship more products from the Martinsburg plant, which recently underwent more than $500 million in upgrades and now has the ability to deliver 2 million metric tons of cement per year, Essroc officials have said.

State Department of Transportation officials said last year that the railroad’s plans for a bridge over U.S. 11 more than adequately met clearance standards. Klein told planning commissioners Monday that abutments for the bridge are outside the agency’s right of way for a three-lane section of the road.

While Essroc uses an existing rail spur to connect to CSX Transportation’s main line, Essroc’s plant manager last year said that upgrading the existing connection was deemed too costly and disruptive to the community.

“CSX gave us a proposal to enlarge their service through the city, and in their proposal, the community would not have been happy,” Paul Biel said in an interview. “Because it would have been expansion through their houses and their yards, and we viewed that as not being good for community relations.”

The new spur to Winchester & Western will be built on land that Essroc already purchased and the two rail connections together will enable distribution of products in a 500-mile radius, Biel has said.

Macy’s distribution center approved

Commissioners approved a plan by Macy’s to build a 1,399,375-square-foot distribution center with associated parking on 92 acres within the Cumbo Yard Industrial Park.  

H&M Co. of Jackson, Tenn., is the developer for the project, according to documents released by the Berkeley County Department of Land Use Planning and Engineering.

The facility is to be on the north side of Caperton Boulevard about 1,700 feet east of the intersection of Caperton Boulevard and Harlan Springs Road, which is off W.Va. 9 west of Martinsburg’s north end.

Officials have said Macy’s is expected to employ about 1,900 workers at the new fulfillment center, which is being built to service the retailer’s Internet-based customers.

Operations have been projected to begin in 2012.

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