BUSINESS

Norfolk Southern set to begin construction

PAT FRIDGEN

Ground may break in September for the Norfolk Southern intermodal facility off Exit 3 in Antrim Township. Roger Bennett, NS Director of Industrial Development for the mid-Atlantic region, told Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday that the acquisition of adjacent properties would be complete in June and the construction bidding process could begin.

He credited officials at the state and local level for their assistance in getting the huge project up and running. “Supportive government was a really big key why we are on this side of the state line,” he said.

The facility is expected to bring 126 jobs to Antrim, and create another 146 indirect positions throughout the corporation.

Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation, commented on the past three and a half years of negotiations. “It’s been a pleasure working with Norfolk Southern. The potential impact on the county is enormous.”

Bennett said the rail company has been partnering with trucking companies, most notably J.B. Hunt, to provide services the trucking industry can use.

“People like the idea of taking trucks off the highway,” he said, “but we have to offer price point value and efficient transit time.”

The IMF will be the site where trucks load and off-load trailers, which will be double-stacked for transport to other NS hubs along its Crescent Corridor. NS serves the eastern seaboard from Atlanta to Philadelphia.

To make the Antrim facility more user-friendly, Exit 3 is being redesigned, and will become a direct connection accessing the property. NS will install a stoplight at the interchange, he added.

NS will close Milnor Road, allowing local traffic to end in cul-de-sacs. Hykes Road will get a grade separation so trains can run beneath the roadway. Bennett acknowledged that the number of trains running through Antrim Township on a daily basis will rise, which increases safety issues at less-traveled roads. “More horns will blow at other crossings.”

The majority of freight will consist of coal and general merchandise. Bennett predicted large stores such as Target, Walmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot would switch to rail in an effort to save on fuel and support ‘green’ transportation. “We’ll lower the carbon footprint because we have fewer emissions than trucks,” he noted.