The Dillerville Yard project consists of three phases. First NS will acquire the site of the former municipal dump, which is adjacent to the eastern end of the current Yard at Harrisburg Avenue rail overpass. It does not relocate the entire yard but rather extends the existing facility a short distance to the west. (Please see the enclosed project map for reference.) The waste will be removed from the site, clean fill imported and new rails and ties installed along with some small structures to support maintenance activities.
Next, the portion of the Dillerville Yard located in the City of Lancaster (between the Harrisburg Avenue overpass and Dillerville Road) and situated behind the businesses along Harrisburg Avenue (Lancaster County Solid Waste Authority and Burnham) will be reconstructed. This is the section of the yard where most of the rail car switching occurs and will continue to occur in the future. The tracks will be temporarily removed and the yard regraded. Tracks will then be replaced in a straighter configuration and several new structures, such as a railroad office and trestle, will be constructed.
The final phase involves the installation of a private vehicular bridge adjacent to the railroad bridges across Harrisburg Avenue, which will be used by Norfolk Southern company vehicles accessing the yard.
The new design is referred to as a "bookend rail facility" with two yards connected by several tracks. It is important to note, however, that the project effectively shifts only the western boundary of the existing Dillerville Yard. This consolidation of the Yard permits more efficient and safer switching operations, while also offering the chance to re-connect the fabric of the City for the first time in more than a century.
When these improvements are complete, the section of the Dillerville Yard property east of Dillerville Road extending to Harrisburg Avenue will be transferred to Franklin & Marshall College and Lancaster General. The College proposes to consolidate its athletic fields at this location, known as the North Campus; and the Lancaster General has plans to construct buildings housing medical programs in need of expansion. As part of this development, we anticipate the re-connection of Liberty Street and College Avenue. In our view, the plans present an exciting opportunity to consolidate the campus, expand the region's leading health care facility, re-connect portions of the City currently divided by the railroad yard, and effectively remake a landscape that now features a rail yard office, a trestle for off-loading bulk materials, engine repairs and several tail tracks used to switch cars.
The new Yard will be located on the land formerly used as a municipal dump. It is situated north of the existing NS tracks behind the United States Post Office and east of the Little Conestoga Creek. Two parcels will be combined: one is approximately 11 acres and owned by the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority and the other is about an acre in size and owned by the U.S. Postal Service. Norfolk Southern will own both parcels.
The project will enable NS to serve its Lancaster County customers' growing needs for rail shipments by creating space for approximately 230 additional rail cars at the Dillerville Yard facility. It is critically important to note, however, that the design permits more efficient and flexible rail car switching and storage operations. For this reason, while rail car capacity will increase the improved operational efficiencies from the new track layout will not increase the number of locomotives, trains or crews at the site as a result of the yard consolidation project. In other words, the new site allows more rail cars to be added to existing trains.
If the number of locomotive engines does not increase, there is far less likelihood of increased diesel emissions or other environmental concerns at the site.
The expanded portion of the rail facility behind the Post Office will be used to store rail cars that have been retrieved from rail customers' facilities. The cars will sit in the yard for approximately 24-48 hours before they are connected to form a train that returns to the Harrisburg Enola Rail Yard, a process that already occurs today on a daily basis. The new Yard simply provides a way to conduct these operations more efficiently.
The existing train tracks and yard have been in use for more than 100 years as Lancaster City and the suburbs expanded around it. The Yard exists to serve customers in Lancaster and western Chester counties. One daily train from the Enola Yard is received and broken into eight local trains to be delivered to customers' facilities. A train of empty cars is returned to Enola each evening.
The Yard is well situated because of its geographical location near the center of the Lancaster market. It also sits close to the Amtrak line, which NS is permitted to cross at only specific intervals each day.
The Yard contains a raised trestle for unloading bulk materials into customers' trucks. Less than three percent of Norfolk Southern's business is conducted from the trestle and is not predicted to grow substantially as a result of this project.
To pursue another location, a parcel of land about 60 acres in size would have to be purchased and developed to relocate the entire Dillerville operation. Gannett Fleming reviewed various parcels between the Dillerville Yard and Columbia and found only one site large enough to potentially accommodate NS operations. This property is slated for residential housing and is therefore unavailable. From an operations and customer service perspective, the Dillerville Yard is far more convenient given its central Lancaster County location.
Additionally, NS has never been interested in, nor pursued an expansion of its Columbia facility because there is insufficient room and the location is not ideal.