A new railroad staging yard is planned by Norfolk Southern Corporation in the Swanton area. Representatives from the company attended last week’s Swanton Village Council meeting to make a presentation and ask council to sell a small piece of land for the project.
The proposal, which would allow for parking, inspecting and repairing train cars, was met by skepticism by both those in attendance and some members of council.
The plan calls for seven new tracks on the north side of the main line stretching from Hallett Avenue (Fulton Lucas Road) to the east of Scott Road. Norfolk Southern plans to have Scott Road closed.
“Our intention is to work with the appropriate parties to close the Scott Road grade crossing,” said Rob Jones of Norfolk Southern. “And then have a turn-around area on the south side and north side of our right-a-way there, so that way vehicles can turn around.”
He added that the closing would net an environmental benefit, since residents in the area would no longer have to hear the train horns at the Scott Road crossing.
Members of council asked several questions as they tried to find potential benefits for the village.
“So what is the benefit for our community?” asked councilman Mike Rochelle. “You said 12 jobs. That doesn’t get me too excited for what we are dealing with.”
Norfolk Southern representatives struggled to give three positives, saying that potential benefits could be discussed with village officials. The potential use of village water at a proposed building east of Scott Road was mentioned.
With most of the project in Swanton Township it is unlikely the 12 jobs mentioned would net much, if any, income tax because the township does not have an income tax.
“What our initial thoughts are is that, once we acquire the property that we need and are able to have a better idea and picture of doing the project, is to work with all of the localities around to see if we can’t get some more big picture wins and ideas from folks,” said Bryant Thomas, a government relations manager for Norfolk Southern.
Council member Dianne Westhoven was concerned about the impact on area residents, both in the village and township.
The plan calls for four additional trough tracks and three additional stub-ended tracks. The site would be lighted to allow for inspections. The switches would be power switches, meaning trains would not have to stop on the tracks in the village to enter the staging yard from the west, but they would slow down to 15 mph.
The yard would be used primarily for coal trains, according to Jones, but he could not promise that other types of cars would not be in the yard.
The site was selected due to its proximity to Toledo.
“We need a location that’s near Toledo to serve our customer base,” said Jones. He added that there aren’t many locations where there wouldn’t be an impact on some residents.
“This facility adds some more network flexibility into our network, gives us additional staging locations for our traffic,” said Jones. “We do have some other staging locations that exist currently but we need more staging locations.
“This is a location that really lends itself to adding that additional capacity.”
Railroad officials said they expected an average of two additional trains passing through the area per day with the completed staging yard.
“I have a lot of residents in this town that have no interest in having added train traffic,” Rochelle told the Norfolk Southern representatives.
A public meeting was planned for Monday at the Village of Swanton Community Center.
• Council approved an agreement with Fulton County and the Swancreek Water District to provide emergency water to the village. The village has never used the water in the previous years of the agreement.
• An update was given on the rebranding initiative for the village. It will be undertaken by a class at Bowling Green State University. They will be coming to town, taking pictures and possibly asking questions.
Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010 or on Twitter @Swan_Enterprise