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Rail traffic will be 24/7 at yard

Rail traffic will be 24/7 at yard

More than 470 property owners will be invited to hear plans later this month for a $40 million railr

More than 470 property owners will be invited to hear plans later this month for a $40 million railroad project in Halfmoon, Mechanicville and Stillwater.

The Intermodal and Automotive Rail facility will cover more than 200 acres, most in Halfmoon. When it is completed, supporters say, trains will be pulling into the rail yard day and night, seven days a week.

According to a presentation made to the Halfmoon Planning Board Monday night, the Pan Am Southern rail project will be able to receive trains that are more than 11⁄2 miles long.

Pan Am Southern is a joint venture created by Norfolk Southern and Pan Am Railways.

David Becker, assistant chief engineer for Norfolk Southern, said dry goods and automobiles will be off-loaded at the local rail yard and either trucked away or stored briefly.

The facility will have space for 371 trailers and 690 automobiles.

Construction is expected to begin later this year and be completed by 2012, with some rail traffic expected to begin next year. It is expected to employ 40 to 60 workers during construction and up to 84 people when complete.

Halfmoon Planning Board Chairman Steve Watts said rail officials have been accommodating local officials even more than they have to.

“This project is under the federal government for review. We wanted to know, what authority do we have for reviewing?” Watts said. “The railroad agreed to submit a formal site plan and a [state environmental quality review] long form to the town.”

Town planner Lindsay Zepko said the town will review the documents and can make comments, although it will not have any control.

The project’s approval will come from the federal Surface Transportation Board.

Zepko said the local issues are air quality, noise, vibrations, lighting and environmental protections including runoff into the Anthony Kill on the rail property.

Watts said although Mechanicville and Stillwater have small portions of the rail project, officials in each community have agreed to give Halfmoon the lead in reviewing the project.

“The supervisors and the mayor of Mechanicville are attending meetings and staying up to date,” Watts said.

Residents living around the massive rail project will be invited, by letter, to attend a public meeting on the plan at 7 p.m. April 27 in the Halfmoon Town Hall.

Watts said in addition to the immediate impacts of the large trains and rail yard activities, there will be as many as 334 trucks a day entering and/or leaving the facility.

About 90 percent of the traffic will be heading west to the Round Lake Bypass of I-87.

Zepko said the first work on the site will be the construction of new rail lines on the southern end of the property.

Becker said state Department of Environmental Conservation and federal environmental permit applications are almost complete and will soon be submitted to the government agencies.

He said construction on the site will include building thousands of feet of new tracks for Canadian Pacific trains to pass through the site as well as the tracks, unloading pads and parking spaces for cargo and trucks.

Other construction will include five single-story buildings, a secure gate area, an emergency access, as well as a new bridge over the Anthony Kill to Route 67.

He said analysis has been performed to minimize the light that leaves the facility.

Lower-noise lift equipment will be used on the site in an effort to cut the noise, and idling by trains will be monitored and limited, Becker said.

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