Thursday, July 23, 2009
Norfolk Southern picks Fayette
By SUE WATSON
Norfolk Southern announced Thursday plans to build an intermodal terminal on 570 acres in Fayette County, Tenn., next to the Mississippi line.
The new terminal in Rossville will serve Norfolk Southern’s Memphis region and become a part of the railroad’s Crescent Corridor route connecting the Northeast and Southeast and Gulf Coast with high-speed, reliable, truck-competitive intermodal service. The crescent stretches 2,500 miles from New Jersey to Louisiana and is expected to absorb more than a million trucks per year from crowded highways, save the country 170 million gallons of fuel annually, and promote economic development and job growth in several states.
The project, made possible through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, is expected to create a boon of economic opportunities for neighboring Marshall Countians as well as Tennesseans, according to Bill Mobley, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority.
Since the yard is located just across the state line, it will access rail across Tennessee Highway 57 which the current rail line parallels, Mobley said. An ingress/egress road to the facility through which trucks will pass enters the yard from Marshall County from Highway 72, he said.
“So, all trucks and loads come into Mississippi and enter and leave and it is right next to where the Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park is located,” Mobley said. “The railroad says they will put a spur from the yard to our park.”
Mobley believes over half of the new jobs created at the yard will be awarded to Marshall County residents, and if the industrial park sees lots of growth as a result of the traffic, hundreds of new warehousing type jobs will open up at the Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park.
“I think distribution companies will spread all over our industrial park,” he said. “Highway 72 will be four-laned all the way and I-269 will be built. It’s all in there for it to happen.
“It’s all there. We’ve got water, sewer, gas and land - everything. If we get a rail spur it will be a bigger success. We will work with the governor, Mississippi Department of Transportation and everyone else to make that park grow.”
Mobley expects the intermodal yard to be open and operating by 2012 and believes the industrial park will be filling up in five years.
Construction of I-269 is set to begin next year in the area, he said.
“We’ve had engineers here looking at stuff for the last three or four months,” he said. “It’s going to be a boon for Marshall County and Tennessee. We are just tickled to death.”
The intermodal project is estimated to cost $600 million to build with $300 million put up by Norfolk Southern and $300 million from the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package, Mobley said.
Close to 200 interested individuals and the press attended the big announcement Thursday. Mayors of the cities of Collierville, Rossville and Piperton were in attendance, as well as Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, members of the Marshall County Board of Supervisors, other county officials, IDA representatives and others. The Bank of Fayette County-Piperton hosted the event, which included representatives from Norfolk Southern and music by the Norfolk Southern Lawmen.
Buck Chambers, mayor of Piperton, believes the population of his city will more than double from the current population of about 1,500 to some 3,500 in five years as a result of the new neighbor, Norfolk Southern. The city has already seen a doubling of population from 503 to present since 2004, he said.
Piperton’s demographics are changing with the old community blending with the new.
New residents work for International Paper, FedEx and Metatronics, and a lot of doctors and lawyers are moving to the suburbs, he said.
“We have a city plan for people of all walks of life,” Chambers said.
His wife, Hattie, is from Holly Springs.
Chambers said his city already has a relationship with Marshall Utilities and the Chickasaw Industrial Park, which has extended utilities to the industrial park at Piperton. He believes the coming of Norfolk Southern to Rossville and Piperton will also benefit North Mississippi.
The developer, William Adair, has 2,200 acres of property in Piperton to develop and the intermodal yard will be situated between Piperton and Rossville, just north of Marshall County.
Mayor James Gaither of Rossville, a town of about 500, said he hopes his town will benefit, also.
“We hope it means some extra income and employment - an asset to us,” he said.
Whit Hughes, deputy director of the Mississippi Development Authority who represented Gov. Haley Barbour at the event, said the state enjoys a shared interest with the greater Memphis area and he expects Norfolk’s decision to expand near Marshall County will open up North Mississippi to new investment and jobs.
The mere logistics of the rail yard lends belief that Mississippi will share in the benefits, he said.
He said economic development is a team sport.
“So we certainly plan to work with our local partners in North MIssissippi to capitalize on this opportunity,” Hughes said.
Mayor Stan Joyner, of Collierville, a city of about 45,000, said his town had concerns about increased truck and train traffic when the intermodal yard was first proposed. He is pleased the original site which was considered was changed and that the rail yard will be further east, he said.
Collierville will have to wait to see if the impact on its economy is positive, he said.
“We hope this will provide some employment; as a region it will be good,” he said.
A grateful Wick Moorman, CEO of Norfolk Southern, said his company is delighted to be constructing a facility to serve its Crescent Corridor. The new intermodal yard will rebuild the supply chain all the way from the Gulf Coast and Southeast to New England, he said.
Memphis is key to the project and Norfolk’s Memphis facility will anchor the facility to the Crescent Corridor, he said. The new terminal is vital to the success of the project, he said.
Rail capacity will provide cheaper transportation of goods in shipping containers or in 18-wheeler trailers and take truck traffic off highways as well, he said. The reductions in truck traffic will reduce emissions and highway maintenance costs.
One train will carry the cargo of about 280 trucks and uses about one-third the fuel required by long-haul trucks on the highway.
Governor Bredesen expects the facility to bring 6,200 jobs to his state by 2020. In addition to producing a cleaner environment, Bredesen said 573,000 trucks would be diverted from the highways and millions of gallons of gasoline would be saved each year.
Crescent Corridor talking points
Construction of Norfolk Southern’s Crescent Corridor initiative is a multi-state network of infrastructure improvements and other facilities which are expected to:
• support the supply chain from the Gulf Coast, Birmingham and Memphis to Philadelphia and New York. More freight traffic will move faster and more reliably.
• implement improvements including straightening curves, adding passing tracks, improving signals and building new terminals. Altogether nearly $2.5 billion in Crescent Corridor projects have been identified. The Rossville facility will cost about $129 million to build.
• reduce highway truck traffic. When the initiative is fully implemented, highway truck traffic could be reduced by one million truckloads of freight a year, saving more than 170 million gallons of fuel a year.
• the Memphis regional intermodal facility will have the capacity to handle 327,000 containers and trailers a year. Four trains will serve the terminal daily.
• employ two or more modes of transportation to move freight in enclosed containers or trailers. At terminals, cranes transfer containers between trucks and trains.
• secure the safest, most efficient and economical way to move freight.
• reduce highway traffic. One train hauls as much freight as 280 trucks.
• save energy and reduce carbon emissions. One train can move a ton of freight 436 miles on one gallon of fuel.
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