Norfolk Southern on meeting agendas

Roadmaster Paul Minnich, left, explained concerns he has with the pending intermodal railway facility planned for Antrim Township. Looking over a map of the project are administrator Brad Graham and supervisors James Byers, Fred Young III and Samuel Miller.

The proposed Norfolk Southern intermodal terminal for Greencastle has generated much conversation by elected officials since NS went public with the idea Aug. 12. Last week the Franklin County Council of Governments heard an NS presentation and the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors held a worksession to specify concerns.

Roger Bennett, NS Director of Industrial Development, spoke to 45 members of COG in Chambersburg Sept. 16. Representatives from Antrim, Greencastle, and the Greencastle-Antrim School District joined other municipal personnel to hear details on the major project.

"This is one of the most interesting projects NS has ever done," Bennett said, ranking it next to the corporation's purchase of Conrail in 1999.

Phase 1 of its Crescent Corrider along the eastern seaboard includes terminals in Birmingham, Memphis and Greencastle, with expansions in Harrisburg, Allentown, Philadelphia and northern New Jersey. The route parallels interstate highways, with the goal of taking truck traffic off the roads. The facility means $95 to $105 million in investment in the Greencastle area. Bennett said 200 acres were under agreement for the four-mile stretch needed, and the near future would create 125 local jobs including construction, and another 140 indirect jobs. Trucking companies were the clients of the rail line, and they will eventually drop off containers or pick them up at the terminal along Armada Drive off Commerce Avenue.

"At the end of the day, what drives this business is the consumer," Bennett stated, meaning the east coast population buying the goods being transported.

Only eight percent of goods are now carried by rail in the east, compared to 40 percent in Chicago and 80 percent in Los Angeles, which is why NS was going after the market, Bennett said. He was also excited by the businesses that would spring up in the industrial parks once the terminal was active.

The Antrim supervisors met Sept. 15 to review issues compiled by roadmaster Paul Minnich. He referenced the potential impact on Hykes Road, Milnor Road, Commerce Avenue, US 11 and Armada Drive. He wondered about environmental issues, utility lines, road repairs, and financial responsibilities of Antrim, PennDOT and NS.

The rail company plans to build an overpass on Hykes Road but Minnich said no one is clear who will own it. Supervisors expressed reservations about the Williamsport Pike/Hykes intersection and the added traffic NS will shift there by closing Milnor. "They ought to be held responsible for some of this traffic they are putting somewhere else," said Samuel Miller.

James Byers agreed. "I'm worried we don't have much say at all. I was nervous when we approved Armada Drive. I never expected anything like this."

Minnch didn't believe Commerce could handle 50 more trucks per hour as the road was deteriorating from the current traffic. He was not pleased that NS had no intention of putting in a left turn lane for northbound traffic. "You're only going to get two or three trucks through on a light change. Citizens are going to complain."

Administrator Brad Graham said talks with NS had been cordial to date. "As long as they're trying to make things as pleasing as possible, we should throw out our list. What about this? And what about this?"