Thursday, October 25, 2012
Neighboring states to share success of intermodal facility
By SUE WATSON
Developer William Adair was host to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker last week.
The two headed up a tour, with county and state officials in tow, to view the latest work at the Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility on a 312-acre site in Rossville, Tenn.
The facility, built to be the largest intermodal facility serving Norfolk Southern Railroad’s Crescent Corridor, is open. Its first customer is J.B. Hunt Trucking, using about 20 percent of the land set aside for rail-truck transfers, Adair said.
The property is situated 28 feet below the horizon in a bowl with berms surrounding the facility and trees on top of that to serve as a buffer. Truck noise and light does not spill over to surrounding terrain from the valley, he said.
The location of the facility, in the beautiful rolling hills of East Tennessee near Piperton, is expected to attract many other large distribution and manufacturing companies. Adair said 56 companies have looked at property in the area and about 34 percent will probably be manufacturing.
Manufacturing jobs pay about $52,000 a year, while warehousing pays about $38,000 a year, he said.
“This is a real deal with real jobs,” Adair said while pointing to expected growth on both sides of the Mississippi/Tennessee state line. “We’re proud of where we are with it.”
While the rail will bring freight to the intermodal site from over Tennessee Highway 57, all trucks will come to and leave the yard through Marshall County, Adair said. He has built a road rated at 100,000 pounds dedicated alone to truck traffic, according to Larry Hall, county administrator. Justin Hall, manager of several projects for the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, said trucks going in and out of the intermodal facility will only travel a few miles to get to an interstate highway.
An overpass will be built over Highway 72 to connect truck traffic to the interstate system, including I-269 under construction in the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park area of Marshall County.
Adair has plans in Rossville that include the side-by-side positioning of commercial, industrial and residential in one large project. The concept has never been used before, he said. But people will be able to work at good jobs, live in decent housing, send their children to quality schools, and shop for their needs in one spot.
He plans to build large golf-cart size trails, have a variety of housing, and build charter schools on the premises. He said it will be the first development that mixes commercial, industrial and residential together.
Adair is developing a 30,000 square foot, upper scale, top-end outlet mall at Church Road and I-55. He has other large projects in progress in Texas.
Adair, who spent 26 years growing Direct Insurance from the bottom up, said he “has come home to do the development (in Tennessee and Mississippi).”
“My family wants to give back and the kids live close by here,” he said, speaking of his daughters, who helped him build the Direct Insurance business into a billion-dollar-a-year company.
He said the success of his projects in Rossville can be attributed to the governors of Mississippi and Tennessee who supported his vision.
“You have to incorporate the business community with the political community,” he said, to do this kind of development.
Having a 12th grade education from Collierville High School and being the son of the school’s janitor did not stop Adair from attaining his goals. He believes education is the basis for the success of the nation.
It takes money, he added, to educate children.
“We’ve got a lot of dedicated people helping with this project,” Adair said. “We started out with an idea and now have a project.”
Fifty percent of Norfolk Southern’s freight along the Crescent Corridor will pass through the Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility in Rossville, he said.
The facility will be the largest operating intermodal facility used by Norfolk Southern when it is fully operational. Adair said he will have 100 trucking companies using the terminal at capacity.
The intermodal yard and surrounding development in Tennessee and Mississippi will be the biggest project Adair has put his hand to.
“This is the deal right here that we can be proud of, when in five years we are out here doing a ribbon-cutting,” Adair said.
He said the project could not have been put together without the help of the Mississippi and Tennessee departments of transportation.
Senator Wicker remarked that plans for I-69 had once been to come across the river in Memphis. But leaders had insisted about a decade ago to bring I-69 through its current trajectory. Wicker called the decision “pivotal.”
Some work remains to finish the four-laning of Highway 72 and the removal of old sewer lagoons and mobile home lots near Cayce Road and Highway 72, Wicker said.
He said it will take the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and Rural Development and other agencies to complete the Highway 72 four-laning project.
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