Norfolk Southern terminal in Antrim is open for business

— By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

The trains are rolling at the Norfolk Southern intermodal facility at exit 3. Business commenced Jan. 21 as the $97 million terminal opened. It had been under construction since late 2010 in Antrim Township.

Formally called the Franklin County Regional Intermodal Facility, the terminal is one stop in the rail line's Crescent Corridor, running 2,500 miles from New Orleans to New Jersey. It parallels interstate highways to attract truck traffic, which can load its containers onto rail cars for transport to the intended destination. Norfolk Southern claims its three Pennsylvania facilities along the corridor will pull 800,000 long-haul trucks in the commonwealth off the road by 2020.

The facility brought 126 jobs to the area.

"They are truck drivers, crane operators, clerks and so on," said David Pidgeon, Norfolk Southern manager of public relations. The company received applications through its website, and most of its positions are filled, or in the final selection and training stage. He said contractors had other methods for finding employees. The outlook for additional jobs was conditional.

"Employment will largely depend on demand for our services, and that will be largely determined by economic factors," Pidgeon said.

The 200-acre intermodal facility is located adjacent to Antrim Commons Business Park. The developer has indicated 2,000 jobs could be created by the park's build-out. Norfolk Southern could not comment on what effect the side-by-side properties had on attracting business.

Pidgeon said they let companies make their own announcements when moving in.

"We believe the Antrim Township location and the central Pennsylvania region have potential for economic development, and that's a major reason why we picked this site. We're hopeful that we'll see positive growth in the years to come."

The facility operates 24 hours a day, but Pidgeon did not have numbers to release on how many trucks or trains were running at startup.

Construction was funded in a private-public partnership. Norfolk Southern contributed $52 million and Pennsylvania gave $45 million. The terminal has 670 paved trailer/container parking spots to handle freight for the mid-Atlantic region. The administration building meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards, and the railroad uses low-emission cranes and hostler tractors, plus gate and terminal automation to maintain air quality and support the truck drivers.

State Sen. Rich Alloway supported the project.

"Investing in freight rail infrastructure projects like these will encourage job growth, improve our local and national economies, and provide tremendous environmental benefits," he said.

Congressman Bill Shuster echoed the sentiment.

"I have no doubt this facility will open a new chapter in Pennsylvania's proud railroading history and create new opportunities for growth in Franklin County and beyond."