Seneca Meadows Rail Spur Proposal
Trading trucks for rail is a gaining trend in the U.S., and one that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority approves of for waste management facilities, according to their 2013 Cleaner, Greener Communities Program Draft Implementation Strategy. The benefits of this trend are numerous:
- 1. Each rail car takes 3 – 4 trucks off of local roadways.
- 2. Freight trains, on average, are 3.8 times more fuel efficient than trucks, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent.
- 3. Statistics show that rail is the safest way to transport goods over land.
To learn the details of our proposed rail spur project, please read the FAQs below.
Rail Spur Project FAQsQ. Will Seneca Meadows seek an increase in its annual waste acceptance rate with the implementation of rail?
A. No. Like all waste management facilities in New York State, our operating permit, which was issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, limits our annual waste acceptance rate. An additional condition is included in that permit which prohibits us from seeking a tonnage increase that would reduce our site life. Modifications to this permit condition cannot be made simply because a new mode of waste delivery is available, and we are not applying for any increase to our permitted tonnage.
Q. Will the implementation of rail result in a decrease in truck traffic to the landfill?
A. Yes. Each rail car takes 3 – 4 trucks off of our local roadways. This will increase the longevity of our local roadways by reducing maintenance needs, which will save taxpayer dollars. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Q. Is there an environmental benefit to transporting freight by rail rather than truck?
A. Yes. According to the Federal Rail Administration (FRA), freight trains, on average, are 3.8 times more fuel efficient than trucks, which results in a 75 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In a 2009 report entitled, Comparative Evaluation of Rail and Truck Fuel Efficiency on Competitive Corridors, the FRA also asserts that if only 10 percent of long-haul freight now moving by truck moved by rail instead, annual greenhouse gas emissions would fall by approximately 11 million tons annually.
Q. Will rail deliveries to Seneca Meadows disrupt local traffic? If so, how will that affect local businesses?
A. Finger Lakes Railway’s current train schedule brings two trains through the local area per day. The build out rail traffic associated with this proposal will not increase that schedule. If the project reaches its full potential, it would only result in one additional train per day.
In addition, each train crossing Route 414 or North Road will be limited to 12 cars. With this limited train length, traffic disruption is estimated to last approximately two minutes per crossing. This movement will be held outside of peak traffic times to minimize the impact of traffic at those crossings.
Q. Where will the rail spur and container transfer area be located?
A. Initially, one spur will be constructed south of the Seneca Meadows Tire Recycling Facility, on the west side of Route 414, providing access to an unloading yard located south of Salcman Road. Should this pilot project prove successful, Seneca Meadows will construct up to three additional spurs in the same location, and construct a support yard on the east side of Route 414.
Q. What will be the visual impact of the rail yard?
A. The railroad yard will be located south of the Seneca Meadows Tire Recycling Facility on land that is currently used by Seneca Meadows for the staging of construction materials. The wooded green space on North Road, which is not owned by Seneca Meadows and not part of the project area, will remain intact and act as a visual barrier to the rail yard, just as it currently does for the stockpiling area. Additionally, the rail yard area will be surrounded by landscaped berms to offer added visual screening for the project.
Q. Will waste filled freight cars generate odor as they pass through town or at the container transfer area?
A. No. All freight containers carrying waste will be fully enclosed, sealed containers, with leak tight seals on the base, joints of doors and the cover to prevent the infiltration of rainwater and the release of odors. These sealed containers will only be opened at the landfill cell for disposal.
Q. Will the material hauled by train be stored at the Seneca Meadows rail spur location or support yard prior to disposal?
A. No. Waste material will be handled and deposited in the landfill as it arrives on site.
Q. Is there a different procedure for environmental monitoring of waste received by rail?
A. Seneca Meadows operates in accordance with a waste screening procedure that has been approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and will continue to do so regardless of the mode of waste delivery. The procedure involves:
- 1. Laboratory testing of industrial waste to ensure that it meets non-hazardous criteria, as well as site specific criteria. This testing helps us determine whether the waste is acceptable.
- 2. On-site radiation monitoring of all waste as it passes over our scales, prior to disposal.
- 3. Random daily selection of waste hauling vehicles for an individualized inspection of their contents.
- 4. Visual inspection by heavy equipment operators of waste as it is unloaded.
Q. How safe is the train transport of waste?
A. Finger Lakes Railway has an exceptional safety record, and has been honored with the Jake Award for Safety all 18 years that they have been in operation. Statistics show that rail is the safest mode of transporting waste.
Q. Will any portion of the cost of the rail spur be paid for by taxpayer dollars?
A. No. Seneca Meadows and Finger Lakes Railway will cover the entire cost of the rail spur.