Norfolk Southern Corp. said construction on its Rutherford intermodal railyard expansion in Dauphin County will begin before the end of the year and be supervised by township inspectors.
“We’ve been talking with the township since the start of this project, and we voluntarily submitted our construction plan to the township for their engineer to review. We also have invited the township engineer to observe construction of the project,” said Dave Pidgeon, a spokesman for the Virginia-based railroad.
Norfolk Southern has been planning a more than $60 million expansion of its Rutherford railyard in Swatara Township since 2011, which will help the company better address its growing intermodal container business.
Yesterday, Swatara Township said the railroad wouldn’t let it review the plans because railroads are exempt from local and state ordinances.
Paul Cornell, the township administrator, today said Norfolk Southern’s cooperation wasn’t entirely voluntary. When the township asked for plans to review the construction’s stormwater management, Norfolk Southern originally declined, he said. The township suggested it submit the plans directly to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review, since it is the federal oversight agency for stormwater. Railroads are not exempt from federal laws.
Norfolk Southern agreed to submit the stormwater plans to the township. The township also asked for construction plans, because without them it could not properly review the runoff plans for the property, something the township must manage with oversight from the state Department of Environmental Protection, Cornell said.
Norfolk Southern agreed, including paying for the township reviews and inspections, he said.
When the Rutherford expansion begins, township inspectors will be on site to verify the project is meeting all applicable laws and codes, Cornell said.
“Although we didn’t review and approve their plan, they’ll be treated the same as any other construction and development company in the township with their project,” he said.
Intermodal freight, or the combo of moving containerized freight by ship, rail and truck, has been growing at a strong clip for all railroads. The midstate expansions are part of the reason Arkansas-based trucking firm J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. built a new facility in the township.