PART 3 of 7
By Kelleigh Nelson
July 13, 2012
Norfolk Southern Railroad announced in 2009 that it would build a $129 million intermodal rail yard terminal on 570 acres in newly annexed land in Rossville, which is in rural Fayette County. The map of the plan shows the site for the yard, which will include a rail spur from Norfolk Southern’s main line north of Tenn. 57 and an access road to U.S. 72 in Mississippi.
The original site chosen was known as the “Windyke” site because it is owned by the proprietors of Memphis’ Windyke Country Club and was slated for a golf course. Railroads have the power of eminent domain, thus this location could have been chosen despite being owned by the Country Club. Norfolk Southern could have put up to 2,000 trucks a day onto highway Tenn. 57. Several groups were against this site. The Wolf River Conservancy was worried about the effects a large intermodal yard would have on the Wolf River and the Memphis Sands aquifer, which is the source of public drinking water. Southern Fayette Alliance was another group formed by Buck Clark as a non-profit to keep the rail yard from being built on this site and polluting the Wolf River. This site was six miles east of Degan’s Wolf River Airport.
The City of Memphis was practically giving the railroad a site in the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park on what is called President’s Island. It is literally on the Mississippi River, just South of the Hanrahan bridge. They would have had rail, riverboat, and trucking, but they just didn’t want to go into downtown Memphis.
Since William Adair had purchased his 3,000 acre farm and was planning to build his rural development of Piperton Hills on it, Buck Clark, from Wolf River Conservancy, and Southern Fayette Alliance, approached Adair about using some of Adair’s site for the rail yard. Buck had land adjacent to Adair’s property. Since Adair had a 3,000 acre ranch, he said he’d sell them the 300 to 600 acres they needed and make it adjacent to his Piperton Hills development. Then he’d get it rezoned so the rail yard would be in Rossville. What he did was buy farmland in the surrounding area. None of the Aldermen of the City of Rossville, population under 1,000, approved whatever Adair and Clark were going to do, but instead gave them carte blanche to do as they pleased with Norfolk Southern. When Norfolk Southern intimated they would use eminent domain to take some of Adair’s property, he wasn’t as cozy with them as he once was, but they have still remained in business together. Adair’s development company is doing the dirt moving work for the rail yard facility, moving over 3.4 million yards.
Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in anintermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation(rail, ship, and truck), without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes from truck to rail, or from ship to rail, etc. Norfolk Southern’s rail yard will receive 4,000 to 5,000 trucks per day and deliver containers to be off-loaded on the trains for delivery. This intermodal will allegedly remove up to a million long-haul trucks from the road. That’s one million jobs being cut.
The Intermodal will serve as a key component of the railroad’s CrescentCorridor, a 2,500-mile, $2.5 billion public-private partnership rail network linking the southeastern and northeastern U.S. The $105 million terminal is a part of the railroad’s Crescent Corridor program of projects to establish a high-speed intermodal freight rail route linking the Gulf Coast and the Northeast. Anyone else find the name “Crescent” rather disturbing?
Sixty U.S. legislators endorsed the Crescent Corridor concept, including U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis. Alexander and Corker have proven themselves to be on board with UN Agenda 21, along with Representative Cohen.
The railroad is planning to fund $31 million of the project’s $112 million price tag, and the state had requested $81.2 million in federal stimulus money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’sTransportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Program. Norfolk Southern received $105 million in federal stimulus money and will use half that money, or $52.5 million, for the facility. The other half will be used for an intermodal facility in Birmingham, Ala. I’m sick of trillions of tax dollars being given to private corporations under the guise of stimulus!
As for their green claim, residents are wondering how green it can be. Trees are being felled, ponds are being drained, streams are being bulldozed, and roads are being built over the area’s rolling hills in preparation for hundreds – and later thousands – of trucks coming in and out each day.
Governor Bill Haslam says, “I’m excited about the jobs this project will bring to Fayette County and Tennessee. My administration continues to focus on making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, and this project is indicative of why one of our target industry clusters for job growth is transportation, logistics, and distribution.” Haslam tells Tennessee the intermodal’s projection for jobs by 2020 is 6,200, and by 2030 9,000 new jobs. What he doesn’t tell you is that 1.3 million truck drivers will lose their jobs. In reality, very few jobs are actually created at the Intermodal Facility, perhaps 15. The ancillary jobs might come from other corporate relocations there, which would inevitably mean additional stream mitigation.
The list of supporters of this intermodal system reads like a Who’s Who of UN Agenda 21 promoters all under the guise of going “green,” and saving the highways, fuel, interstate congestion, and of course fewer tons of CO2 released annually.
Adair and Norfolk Southern’s Intermodal Rail Yard
This story sounds like countless other stories we’ve heard about big government, the elite, and the trampling of the little guy’s rights, but it’s not, it’s way, way more. This story affects not only Woody Degan’s family airport, it affects every citizen in the State of Tennessee. This man and his brother are fighting for the God-given rights of every citizen in our state and perhaps the country. When the citizens of a state lose control of their water to the state government, all the rest of the dominos in the UN Agenda 21 program will fall. Here’s what happened in 2008 before the Waste Water Treatment Plant and Norfolk Southern Intermodal was started.
Ronnie Lee is a personal friend of the Degan family, and he’s also a real estate agent who works for William Adair. In 2008, Ronnie had talked to Woody and his brother Reg about buying the whole airport. However, the Degans never gave him a price because they didn’t want to sell. Shortly thereafter, Southwest Management of Phoenix, AZ sent a surveyor to snoop around the airport to look at the land, and ask about them selling some of the land off the end of the runway. Woody said no, that it would make the runway too short. What was happening is the developers were looking at putting the rail yard right smack next to the airport, while Adair and the City of Piperton were looking at putting the Waste Water Treatment Plant adjacent to the airport.
The first letter Woody received from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) stated they were going to impact one of his streams because they were doing some work upstream on a project and it would impact so much land and so forth. They stated the developer was going to participate in the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program and that’s how the damages would be offset.
Several months later Woody received a letter from the Corps of Engineers that stated the same thing, except it was on another stream they were buying on the other side and they would be participating in the same program to offset damages.
Woody couldn’t understand why he was getting very similar letters on two different streams from two different agencies. The key here is that the Corps of Engineers is doing their books for them on the state level. They do their reports so they can keep it off the state books and this is to get around both the State Water Act and the federal Clean Water Act. There is no legislation that allows this, either at the federal or state level. It is done just so they can keep their developments going in spite of being illegal.
The letters were about the development of an intermodal rail yard by Norfolk Southern which is right across the street from Wolf River Airport. It is basically a hub for trains. They come in, reconfigure and go back out. Woody and his family are all for the rail yard and the corporations that will surround it as this will help his business, but he can’t operate if he’s a foot under water.
As mentioned above, the Windyck site was six miles east of the present location, but the opposition was so heavy because it was going to pollute the Wolf River Watershed being so close to the river. The runoff and drainage would go into the river and kill the fish. Exactly the same thing is happening now at the present site in Rossville in Fayette County, Tennessee. These two streams converge on Woody’s property, and the north end of Woody’s property abuts the Wolf River. The Rossville location is closer to the interstate, so they mitigated here. They also knew about Adair, who was already doing a development in the same area, and they bought the acreage from him.
There are federal stipulations or advisories from the FAA, the National Transportation Administration, the Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and they are all signatory to these “Memorandums of Agreement,” stating they will NOT DO exactly what they’re doing. So, not only are they getting around the federal Clean Water Act, they are doing things in close proximity to the airport that they shouldn’t be doing. The state wants this project for the jobs the ancillary businesses surrounding the intermodal will create. Everyone understands this. It is actually a perfect situation with an airport and an intermodal with surrounding supporting businesses.
However, this intermodal rail yard did not have to be near the Wolf River Airport. The City of Memphis was practically giving them a place called President’s Island. The infrastructure was there, the rails were there, the land was available, but they refused it. There is enough unoccupied building inventory around the country, that we shouldn’t even have to talk about mitigation.
There is now a stream outside of Woody’s building at the airport that is nine feet deep in pristine, white, hard-edged sand, which means that sand hasn’t been in the creek for long, and it is clean without other mixed dirt. This means that sand most likely came from underground, which also means the project hit an aquifer. This is a Memphis sand aquifer feeder so this project is potentially polluting the groundwater. An environmental assessment was paid for by the project itself, and done by the Irish company, American Engineering Consultants (AMEC). The assessment stated there is a 50/50 probability of breaching the aquifer and polluting it.
The developers were sent numerous letters of complaint by Woody and his brother and their representatives, and then the developers lied saying they’d never received them, until they had to produce them in state court. The entire cadre of state organizations has misrepresented facts and has lied all the way up to the Environment Conservation Committee in Nashville, TN. The developers and state organizations have lied from the beginning to where they are now.The project developers, Norfolk Southern, along with AMEC, and the former Attorney General, Paul Summers, of the State of Tennessee, came and sat in the airport office, at their request, and showed Woody and his brother maps. They knew there was an airport, and they knew the airport was federally numbered. When they produced their Environmental Assessment and all of their official TDEC paperwork, they left the airport completely out of any Environmental Assessment they did. In fact, they stated that all the downstream use for the land use was agricultural. The airport has been flooded twice. The plan is for 34 to 35 Corporations to locate around this project, so what’s going to happen when they start hard surfacing land that used to absorb runoff? The first flood caused the airport to lose computers, records, and filing cabinets that ended up turned over. The condition of the property, including the grass, was so damaged that it was back to square one to repair the loss.
They know Wolf River Airport has been flooded multiple times as a result of what they’ve done. They were in court arguing about not having an impact while Burlington Northern trains were stopped at the creek crossing, refusing to go across because they considered the water level too dangerous. The water was actually coming up over the rail tracks. An engineer for Burlington Northern, who shares tracks with Norfolk Southern, halted his train and refused to cross the stream bridge when the tracks were flooded. The cost of that delay came to approximately $1 million per hour.
Trucks and backhoes show up at the crossing, on the Airport’s private road, and Woody goes out to ask what they’re doing. They don’t want to tell Woody that they’ve put the rail on restriction because an engineer from Burlington refused to cross it. Norfolk Southern, AMEC and TDEC all say everything’s okay, but Burlington Northern who is not part of this conspiracy, says otherwise.
Part 4 will explain the impact on neighboring properties and the pollution of the aquifers that supply the area’s drinking water.
Kelleigh Nelson has been researching the Christian right and their connections to the left, the new age, and cults since 1975. Formerly an executive producer for three different national radio talk show hosts, she was adept at finding and scheduling a variety of wonderful guests for her radio hosts. She and her husband live in Knoxville, TN, and she has owned her own wholesale commercial bakery since 1990. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Kelleigh was marketing communications and advertising manager for a fortune 100 company in Ohio. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, she was a Goldwater girl with high school classmate, Hillary Rodham, in Park Ridge, Illinois. Kelleigh is well acquainted with Chicago politics and was working in downtown Chicago during the 1968 Democratic convention riots. Kelleigh is presently the secretary for Rocky Top Freedom Campaign, a strong freedom advocate group.