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Norfolk Southern official: Hagerstown was second choice for rail-truck terminal

$95 million intermodal facility now being built in Greencastle

August 03, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Norfolk Southern government relations member Richard "Drew" Marrs speaks Wednesday at a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce "Eggs and Issues" breakfast.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Hagerstown was Norfolk Southern's second-choice to locate a $95-million intermodal rail-truck terminal now under construction near Greencastle, Pa., a company official told a group of local business people Wednesday morning.

 "It is my understanding that many of the characteristics that were examined for the intermodal facility were also looked for in Hagerstown, and Hagerstown came down as one of the final two locations for the facility," Norfolk Southern government relations member Richard "Drew" Marrs said.

In the end, the Greencastle location was selected because traffic flow in that area was more suitable, Marrs said during a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce "Eggs and Issues" breakfast.

Still, Hagerstown-area businesses stand to benefit from the economic impact of the Greencastle facility, which is expected to extend in a 50-mile radius around the facility, he said.

In addition to creating about 126 jobs at the intermodal facility and another roughly 150 jobs supporting the facility, its creation is estimated to benefit more than 5,000 jobs through purchases and payments made by the railroad and new industries it will attract to the region, he said.

In the years since the 1989 opening of the Virginia Inland Port, a similar container-transfer facility near Front Royal, Va., 39 companies have located near that facility, he said.

For new and existing businesses and their clients, the intermodal facility offers a new approach to transporting shipments, Marrs said.

"Intermodal transport is a fancy word for saying it took more than one mode of transportation to bring it to you," he said.

Often, the shipment begins and ends by truck, but also spends time on a train, ship or airplane, Marrs said. At the Greencastle facility, containers will be moved from trucks to trains and vice-versa, he said.

The target business for Norfolk Southern's intermodal transport is shipments headed to destinations about 500 miles away, Marrs said.

The truck leg of the journey generally will be within a 50-mile radius of the intermodal facility, he said.

"That's good for the truck drivers that want to come home at night," he said. "They can stay here in their region and not have to do long hauls."

The Greencastle intermodal facility is part of Norfolk Southern's 2,500-mile Crescent Corridor rail network from New Jersey to Louisiana.

"The Crescent Corridor offers north-south connectivity," Marrs said. "Normally, it's been east to west, so this is a new opportunity for businesses in the region that want to take their goods north into the Northeast or, vice versa, take it south into the Southeast."

Purchases and payments made by Norfolk Southern will also benefit Washington County businesses as the railroad spends money on everything from buying lunch for a safety briefing, to buying sand and gravel, or hiring area companies as subcontractors for work at the facility, Marrs said.

The railroad reinvests 40 percent of every dollar its earns back into infrastructure, and that will include investments in the Washington County area, he said.

"We start with intermodal terminals, then we increase the speed on the tracks, then we add capacity by adding new track, and then lastly we buy more locomotives, and we buy more cars," Marrs said.

Wednesday's breakfast was held at the Applause Caterers banquet room above the Academy Theater in Hagerstown. It was sponsored by Kaplan University.

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