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County supports expanding Ferndale rail yard

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County supports expanding Ferndale rail yard; city fumes

March 4, 2004



A simmering feud between Oakland County and Ferndale grew hotter this week when county officials went on record supporting a controversial rail yard expansion in the south Oakland city.

The Ferndale and Hazel Park city councils have passed resolutions opposing a Michigan Department of Transportation proposal to expand the rail yard on Ferndale's east side.

The Canadian National terminal site in Ferndale is one of four being studied by MDOT for a project called the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal. The other sites are in Detroit.

The new facility would handle more than 16,000 trucks transporting loads to and from railcars daily.

Ferndale opposes the terminal because of environmental, traffic and business concerns. The city has estimated it could lose up to $1 million annually in revenue under one plan for the site, which would displace up to 10 businesses. Another plan calls for placing the terminal closer to the Michigan State Fairgrounds, across 8 Mile in Detroit.

Oakland County officials wrote to MDOT last week expressing support for putting the terminal in Ferndale.

"Improvement of this terminal will help keep our economy strong in the region, including Oakland County," wrote David VanderVeen, director of the county's Central Services.

On Wednesday, VanderVeen said the county is "looking at the bigger picture."

"If there's opposition, I guess that's just the democracy that we live in," he said.

City officials were furious.

"This is just one more decision the county has made to try to stick it to this little struggling city," said Councilman Craig Covey.

Resident Charles Goedert called the letter part of a "scorched-earth policy" toward south Oakland County. "It's just a blatant, naked abuse of power."

Last month, Oakland County kicked Ferndale out of its Main Street program, which provides assistance for sprucing up downtowns, because of the city's vocal disputes with the county on such issues as urban sprawl and freeway expansion.

MDOT spokesman Ben Kohrman said the department will take all the opinions into consideration as it completes its study for the terminal. It expects to make a recommendation in the fall, he said. An MDOT advisory committee meeting on the plan will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn, 5801 Southfield Freeway Service Drive in Detroit. The public is welcome.

Contact KATHLEEN GRAY at 248-351-3298 or [email protected] Staff writer Erin Chan contributed to this report.

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