VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 1 POSTED ON: 2/26/2012
Norfolk Southern is looking at Bibb County site for hub Posted by Michael Tomberlin -- Birmingham News August 29, 2009 5:30 AM Opponents of the proposed Norfolk Southern hub near these tracks in McCalla gave railroad execs a suggestion for an alternative site. (The Birmingham News / Mark Almond) Norfolk Southern Corp. officials are studying an alternative site for its $112 million hub after opponents to the project in McCalla pointed the railroad to Bibb County property. The move comes after Norfolk Southern met with leaders of No Hub 4 McCalla and said it would consider another site if opponents could show it one that is as good as or better than the 316-acre one it has focused on in McCalla. Terry Finch, a resident of the Sadler Ridge subdivision adjacent to the hub property in McCalla, found a 370-acre site in Bibb County 10 miles from the McCalla property and four miles off Exit 97 on Interstate 20/59. Finch said the property has three railroad tracks running by it. Finch presented the site to Norfolk Southern officials at a public information meeting at the Bessemer Civic Center on Aug. 18. Rudy Husband, a spokesman for the company, said railroad officials visited the site the next day. "Our initial reaction was that the site will not work for us, but we are having our engineering department perform a more thorough evaluation," Husband said. The company chose the McCalla property after a three-year site search in the Birmingham area. It considered sites in Lincoln in Talladega County and Ashville in St. Clair County and numerous areas closer to Birmingham, including its Irondale rail yard. But McCalla was the only one that met all of Norfolk Southern's criteria, including the need to have more than one mile of track without a grade-level road crossing. Such crossings could block traffic as trains wait to move into the hub, where containers are taken from trucks for loading onto railcars. But the McCalla site's location next to McAdory Elementary School has put it in the crosshairs of residents and parents of children at the school. They are concerned about the increased traffic on McAshan Drive, with up to 400 trucks a day expected to move into the hub. They have also questioned the impact diesel emissions will have on the air quality and whether the facility will be so noisy it disrupts teaching at the school. Norfolk Southern has said its studies show the facility will have no adverse affects. MPO holds off Meanwhile, a subcommittee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization Thursday declined to take action on a request from Norfolk Southern to send a letter of support for the hub project to the U.S. Department of Transportation. A form letter was included from Herbert Smith of Norfolk Southern for Regional Planning Commission Director Charles Ball to sign. The letter supported the hub. Norfolk Southern is seeking a grant from the U.S. DOT and the federal stimulus program for the project as a "green initiative." In his letter to Ball, Smith said Alabama would be joining the transportation departments in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia in a joint application for Norfolk Southern to get the stimulus money. Ball took the matter to the subcommittee before responding. "We know this is the one proposed for McCalla," said Wayne Sullivan, transportation director for Jefferson County. When committee chairman Tom Henderson, mayor of Center Point, asked for a motion, there wasn't one. "We have no confirmation from the governor or the state DOT of their support for this," Henderson said. Gov. Bob Riley, however, has publicly expressed support for the project. News staff writer Ginny MacDonald contributed to this report. Join the conversation below or e-mail Tomberlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pages to are hidden for
"Norfolk Southern is looking at Bibb County site for hub"Please download to view full document