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Greencastle officials concerned about truck traffic from new freight facility

March 19, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Norfolk Southerns new, $97 million intermodal transportation facility near Pennsylvanias Exit 3 of Interstate 81 is seen in this file photo shortly after it opened in January.
File photo

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Some Greencastle officials are concerned that a newly opened rail-truck facility could result in heavier truck traffic in the borough.

At Tuesday’s Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast meeting, Grant Cothran, manager of intermodal development for Norfolk Southern, and Jesse Moose, industrial development manager for Norfolk Southern, spoke to local business and community leaders at Rhodes Grove Camp and Convention Center in Chambersburg, Pa.

Norfolk Southern’s new, $97 million facility is on 200 acres near Pennsylvania’s exit 3 of Interstate 81.

“As we know, truck traffic can be a killer for downtowns,” Greencastle Borough Manager Susan Armstrong said.

Armstrong and Greencastle Borough Council President Charles Eckstine are worried the new site will add to traffic congestion in the downtown.

Once it gets into full swing, there are concerns about the heavy truck traffic, Eckstine said.

“It will bring commerce to the area, but I’m not sure if there is going to be a whole lot of benefit as far as the downtown itself. My fear is we’re going to become even more just a through-way,” Armstrong said.

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said there shouldn’t be any issues with trucks going through downtown Greencastle.

“The intermodal is positioned right at the interchange. What makes the whole Antrim Commons and intermodal work so effectively is it literally connects directly to the interstate,” Ross said.

It’s virtually a straight shot on and off of Interstate 81, he said.

“It’s hard to imagine a better situation than what we’ve got,” Ross said.

If there is an accident on 81, then the traffic will get rerouted, but that is what happens now, he said.

Norfolk Southern got up and running Jan. 20, but so far Garon Gembe hasn’t seen the amount of traffic coming from the intermodal that he feared.

“How many trucks are going in and out of that terminal a day?” Gembe, president of Graphics Universal, asked Cothran during a question-and-answer period.

Cothran said there has been a steady ramp up of the new facility.

“We are going to get a lot of use out of this terminal. If you look at the size of this facility and the number of parking spots we expect to do a lot of business here. This is not a small terminal by our standards,” Cothran said.

The intermodal terminal is not “nearly at capacity in terms of truck traffic at this point,” Cothran said by phone on Tuesday afternoon.

He said Norfolk Southern does not release capacity figures to the public.

“I was expecting the worst (traffic issues) and haven’t experienced any at all,” Gembe said by phone Tuesday afternoon.

He was concerned about having difficulties getting in and out of his business on U.S. 11 when the terminal was running at full capacity.

“If you were looking at overall capacity are you at 1 percent right now?” asked Joel Fridgen, Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce’s executive director.

“We’re somewhere between 1 and 50 percent,” Cothran said.

“It’s a large piece of infrastructure in Greencastle that we’re really proud of and we see a lot of business opportunity around it — direct and indirectly,” Cothran said.

The facility has created about 100 jobs locally.

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

The actual terminal itself doesn’t create that many jobs, Cothran said.

“The job creation comes from companies seeing this new piece of infrastructure that already adds to the great things that are here and make it a more desirable place to set up,” Cothran said. “It will help businesses that are here that previously could only ship by truck. It’s going to save them money and it will also spur new companies coming in wanting to set up shop here.”

Ross said previously that thousands of jobs could be created over the next decade at the site.

Initial economic projections from Norfolk Southern had estimated that the economic impact through 2030 would be $3.16 billion.

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