Norfolk Southern addresses concerns

PAT FRIDGEN

Three representatives from Norfolk Southern met with five Antrim Township supervisors and a handful of citizens Feb. 8 to discuss issues of mutual concern. The major topics residents had questioned in the previous weeks were on air quality and stormwater management when NS contructs an intermodal facility in the township.

Jonathan Rinde, NS environmental attorney, said the results of an impact study were posted on the Antrim website, the rail company was in the last phase of construction approvals, work would commence in late spring, and was expected to take 18 months.

Under federal laws regarding clean air and water, Rinde said emissions would not be a concern, and erosion and sedimentation controls were in place.

Charlie McMillan, NS engineer, said trees would be planted on the western border by Milnor Road to absorb pollution.

The rail terminal was expected to draw 275 trucks per day to load and unload cargo. Security measures included cameras and a gate system. Rinde did not see that contraband smuggled into the area would be a problem, since the shipping containers would not be opened on site.

"Time is money," he said. "The trucks pull in, grab their load and come out."

Robert Siik, NS group manager, services and assets, added that the facility would operate around the clock every day.

One woman asked about engine idling, which now occurred near her home.

"We've been experiencing a lot of overnight idling of trains," she said. "It's very annoying. I can even give you the engine numbers."

NS personnel promised to follow up on that.

With a potential of 200 jobs in the area, Rinde said employment contractors would do the actual hiring about three months before the opening date. Managers would transfer in but most of the other jobs would be filled by local people. The average wage would be $51,000. Antrim chairman Sam Miller countered that that figure included benefits, so the real salary would be closer to $31,000.

Miller noted various intersections that would be impacted by the new truck traffic and rerouting of the closed Milnor Road. Antrim estimated $800,000 to upgrade the Williamsport Pike/Hykes Road intersection. He asked NS to do more than just "support" Antrim's seeking funding for the improvement.

Rinde said NS and Antrim already had their agreement, to which Miller replied the intersections were never negotiated.

Residents also asked about the cleanup of spills, regulation of traffic flow, utility agreements with Antrim and Greencastle, noise, longterm cooperation, and outlets for complaints.

Rinde summed up the perspective of NS. "All I'm asking you is give us a fair shake."

According to the environmental studies report posted at www.twp.antrim.pa.us, Norfolk Southern will undertake a few mitigations to compensate for the disturbances the intermodal facility will create.

The stream near Food Lion will be relocated to the west side of the tracks. Erosion and sedimentation controls will be put into place as specified by Franklin County Conservation District. Native plant species will be used for plantings. NS is prepared to remove petroleum products and equipment if necessary as properties are demolished prior to construction. A brick wall will be constructed east of a farmhouse, and landscaping materials placed near two properties.

The NS published employment projections in the Franklin County area are 126 jobs by 2020, and another 149 indirect jobs in that time frame.

Park committee

The board approved quick appointments to the Park Committee at the request of chairman Pat Heraty. Don Daley had resigned after five years of service.

"A lot of important things we'll be discussing in the next several months," said Heraty, "such as rental and use of the facilities."

He didn't want to wait out the traditional process of seeking members from an interested public.

He was accompanied by Mike Montedoro, who was willing to serve. The supervisors appointed Montedoro and Frank Lambert III, who had submitted a letter of interest for another vacancy which was filled in January. He was to be contacted after the fact to see if he was still interested.