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Norfolk Southern opens its $97 million rail-truck facility

Franklin County Area Development Corporation president said indirect growth from it could be huge

January 23, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • The intermodal facility in Antrim Township, Pa., run by Norfolk Southern began operations this week.
Submitted photo

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Norfolk Southern opened its $97 million rail-truck facility Monday, creating 126 jobs with thousands more expected.

The new facility on 200 acres near Exit 3 of Interstate 81 is part of the railroad’s Crescent Corridor, a 2,500-mile network of rail and terminals that reduces truck traffic on highways and cuts carbon emissions, said Dave Pidgeon, public relations manager for Norfolk Southern.

“We’re up and running and so far, so good,” Pidgeon said.

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation, said indirect growth from Norfolk Southern could be huge.

“The true impact will be the off-site employment that will materialize with new facilities being built or expanded in the region,” Ross said. “It will materialize with trucking companies locating to serve the intermodal terminal.”

The job projections go into the thousands of jobs that can be created over the next decade, he said.

“We believe there will be a number of logistics-based companies that will establish warehouse and distribution facilities in the region that stand to become major employers from the Winchester (Va.) area up to the Carlisle (Pa.) area,” Ross said.

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With thousands of acres of land available along I-81 for development, he is excited about the growth potential.

There are between 1,500 and 1,700 acres along I-81 that can be developed and supported by the intermodal, Ross said.

“Right in Antrim Township, within a mile radius of that interchange, there is about 850 acres,” Ross said.

“Farther north, between Marion (Pa.) and Wayne Avenue (in Chambersburg, Pa.), there is another 350 acres. Farther north in the Shippensburg (Pa.) area, there is another 350 acres.”

While Pidgeon said he couldn’t predict how the new intermodal facility would affect the local economy, he said terminals tend to attract economic development.

“What we have seen happen is distribution centers and other shippers want to be located next to these terminals,” Pidgeon said. “Because intermodal freight moves the freight over long distances. Then, trucks come and pick them up and move them short distances. So if you are somebody who runs a warehouse or a distribution center, naturally you are going to want to be close to a ground terminal.”

“I can’t accurately predict what’s going to take place in Antrim Township, but our hope is that the potential in Franklin County will be realized in the coming years,” he said.

Initial economic projections from Norfolk Southern had estimated that the economic impact through 2030 would be $3.16 billion, but Pidgeon said economic projections are dependent on economic factors that hinge on both the national and world economy.

Greencastle’s terminal is the third intermodal terminal that Norfolk Southern has opened in Pennsylvania.

By combining the two intermodal facilities in the Harrisburg region — Harrisburg and Rutherford — Pidgeon said as many as 800,000 long-haul trucks will be taken off the highways.

“We can haul the freight over long distances with better fuel efficiency, and that means reduced carbon emissions and it also means less wear and tear on the nation’s highways, which are maintained by taxpayer dollars,” Pidgeon said. “That’s a win for the public because we’re taking these heavy trucks off the highway.”

While the Greencastle project was projected to cost $95 million, Pidgeon said the final cost was $97 million.

“With any kind of construction project, materials and labor sometimes go up when you are looking at a three-year project due to economic factors,” he said.

The state provided $45 million toward the project, but the $2 million increase was covered by Norfolk Southern, Pidgeon said.

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