Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Western Tribune column July 15, 2009 Intermodal
Picture Credit Bham News
“Not in my backyard,” McCalla residents proclaimed on Thursday, referring to the Norfolk Southern intermodal facility that is coming to their area. Thankfully, on Friday, Norfolk Southern assured us that the facility will not be in anyone’s backyard.
Much of what has been promoted by those who oppose the facility is false information, beginning with a photograph of a rail yard and ending with fears of toxic chemical spills.
Much will be written and said before the facility is constructed, but let me replace what has been said with some facts.
The facility will be built on land that is at least 800 to 1000 feet from Eastern Valley Road, and will be separated from residential and public facilities by natural topography and an earthen berm with trees planted on it. In fact, the facility will not be visible from the areas that surround it.
This buffering will also help to mitigate noise, which is not actually an issue, since the operations will not include switching and coupling or train whistles blowing.
Photo credit Norfolk Southern
Toxic chemical spills are not a concern because intermodal shipping does not include inhalant hazards such as chorine.
Fears of light pollution are lessened as well because Norfolk southern will use hooded lights that are focused and directed on the areas where work is taking place.
Four intermodal trains currently operate in the area, and this will increase to six trains, so increased train traffic is not a concern either.
The only problem I see is the increased truck traffic at Exit 104 and McAshan Drive, and the road in question may need to be upgraded or widened.
Residents will have the opportunity to hear for themselves in August that this will be a modern, environmentally friendly facility that will not affect their way of life, as has been suggested.
I personally would not consider moving away if I lived in the area and would not hesitate to buy property nearby if I were looking.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Tannehill Ironworks was an industrial site in the area. I assume that the ordinance and other products made for the Southern Army were distributed by trains. While not intermodal shipping in the current sense, it was early precedent for what is to come.
This is an important facility for Western Jefferson County, and the McCalla “way of life” will not be affected when it is in place.