The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Governor Riley supports railroad hub in McCalla

Governor Bob Riley supports the $112 million project and says the concerns of residents can be addressed. Story at

"This could have huge economic consequences for this entire part of the state," Riley said in an interview.

"I've met with the railroad and I've met with some of the people who live out there," Riley said. " I understand there is always going to be some things people are not going to support. To be honest with you, I've had more calls in support of it than I've had people against."

Riley said he believes the railroad can take action to calm the fears of the community.

"I not only understand their concerns, I have told the railroad that most of the concerns they've articulated I think could be resolved," Riley said.

Norfolk Southern has scheduled its own public meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Bessemer Civic Center.

On a related note, McCalla resident Carl had a letter in The Western Tribune last week in which he outlined reasons not to build the hub. In it, he addressed my column from the previous week, which supported the hub. In it, I wrote:

"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."

In his letter, he wrote:

First, for Openshaw's edification, Tannehill was truly an industrial site by 19th century standards. However, there was no railroad or large community surrounding the site. Material, namely pig iron, manufactured at Tannehill was transported by animal drawn conveyance to the rail head in Montevallo, thence to Selma.

My information came from the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

A foundry at Tannehill manufactured eating utensils, pots, and skillets for the Confederate Army, but most of the pig iron was sent by rail to the Selma Arsenal and Gun Works to be cast into munitions and iron plate for battle ships.

In addition the article explains that the first blast furnace at the site was built by ironmaster Moses Stroup, who built the first railroad iron in Georgia. And earlier than that, iron had begun to be manufactured at the Hillman Bloomery at the site. Daniel Hillman had been "enticed" to build at the site by Abner McGehee, a railroad investor from Montgomery. It seems that with that much railroad influence, a rail line might have been built to the site.

But whether the rail line came all the way to Tannehill or not, intermodal transport was occuring, and manufactured materials were transferred from wagon to train.

The article was written by James R. Bennett.

As for the concern about deisel fuel pollution from the trucks, if the people of Alabama, including the people of McCalla, had been concerned about air quality and how it affects their children, and shown some concern about the environment, they could have passed legislation similar to what California passed which will require old trucks to be replaced with cleaner trucks or to retrofit them with diesel exhaust traps and then everyone, not just the kids at McCalla, could have cleaner air.

And if they were really concerned about out state's air they would have been voicing their complaints against Alabama Power, which ran the number 1 power plant mercury emmitter (in 2007) in the nation (plus numbers 8, 25, 28). Read more about Alabama Power's dirty plants here.

Heck, the prevailing winds are going to blow all the pollution into Bessemer and Birmingham anyway. So for the kids at our Bessemer schools, as well as the ones at McAdory, lets clean up everyone's air.


randy said...

Carl...don't you know that you cannot argue with Joe. He is ALWAYS right.

Shia said...

As most believe they are. If they thought they were wrong, they'd change their minds... then be right again!

Joe said...

I'm not arguing with Carl. He wrote a good letter, made his points well. I'm just letting people know where I got my information, and how I came to my conclusion.

But thanks Randy. It's refreshing to see that you realize that I am always right.

randy said...

hey...I do what I can

Sandy Miranda said...

As far as I'm concerned, Governor Riley's statements were vague and insulting to the citizens of McCalla. If they were building this hub 150 feet from his grandchildren's school, I bet he would be singing a different tune. What he doesn't get is the people of McCalla have no interest in hearing how what safety factors will be in place. We don't want it AT ALL. And if there are no safety concerns, why is the McAdory Fire Department asking for resources from NS for Hazmat training? Say what? they are asking the company who is assuring us there will be no danger of a hazardous materials accident for money for hazardous materials training? Okey dokey.

TomPit said...

I don't believe either NS or Gov. Riley ever suggested that there were no safety concerns. I am going to the meeting on 8/18 to hear how those concerns will be addressed. Then we will know whether NS and Riley are serious about responding to those concerns with mitigation plans. With a $112 million project and the expected $1 billion economic impact, perhaps they can come up with a few million dollars to move the school.

I own property in McCalla. To suggest that everyone in the area has suddenly become a born-again environmentalist is disingenuous at best. It all comes down to property values.

I admit I am conflicted on the issue of the hub. We don't want the increased tuck traffic, pollution, and safety issues to deal with. But it surely would be nice to have the positive economic impact for the area. Maybe there is some way we can have both. I hope so.