Edgerton — A large freight center proposed in Edgerton will mean millions of dollars in road work for the area.
But critics of the project say it could create traffic, air quality and other environmental problems.
The freight center is being spearheaded by BNSF Railway, and a developer plans to build the neighboring warehouse complex. Road construction is likely to start in the spring of 2012 and should be done when the rail hub is scheduled to open in 2013.
Today, Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson and BNSF Chief Executive Matt Rose are scheduled to make an announcement about the project, which involves an investment of more than half a billion dollars and ranks among the biggest in the Kansas City area, according to The Kansas City Star.
After being stalled by the recession and a lengthy permitting process, the freight center received a boost this spring when the Kansas Legislature gave the project $35 million in tax incentives. BNSF agreed to start the project this year in exchange for the incentives.
State and federal dollars are going for the road work, which is intended to ease traffic in and out of the 1,000-acre shipping center. The project is expected to produce 16,000 vehicle trips a day.
“The increased development along this corridor will require that the existing, aging transportation infrastructure be improved,” Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said in a statement.
Opponents have been pursuing their options. A national environment group and a couple of residents have gone to court to get BNSF to conduct a more extensive review of the project’s potential effect on the environment.
They also have asked a judge to block the permit issued for the rail yard by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which concluded the project would not significantly affect the environment.
BNSF spokesman Steve Forsberg said the public — not just the railroad — will benefit from the road improvements.