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Norfolk Southern Railway wants to make friends fast in Raleigh’s Five Points neighborhood, so it will pitch an air-conditioned tent at its freight yard office Saturday for a “family / community day” with “food, a dunk tank & games for the kids! FREE!” [7/21/10 update: see print edition story with Norfolk Southern comments.]
The railroad says its freight operation would suffer – and so would its Five Points neighbors – if the state Department of Transportation decided to route fast passenger trains through Norfolk Southern’s yard on the west side of Capital Boulevard.
Norfolk Southern apparently hopes to hear its views echoed by Five Point residents at a public hearing Monday on the impact in Wake County of the proposed Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor.
Lu-Ann C. Perryman, a Cary lobbyist, delivered invitations to Five Points homes this weekend for the Saturday event. The cards say that residents attending the gathering will hear from “informed speakers and concerned neighbors about a better route for Five Points.” Five Points residents are asked to lobby officials and sign a petition.
Norfolk Southern is identified on the invitations. But the railroad’s name does not appear on a trio of “Better Route for Five Points” websites, including Facebook and Twitter pages, that began promoting a similar message last week.
The other route under review by DOT would take passenger trains along the opposite side of Capital Boulevard, through a CSX rail yard that borders the Mordecai neighborhood.
As Norfolk Southern spreads its message on the rail proposal, some Mordecai residents want to hear from CSX. Reid Serozi, co-chairman of the Mordecai Citizens Advisory Council, drafted an e-mail today to John W. Dillard, a CSX spokesman.
“We’re just asking him: What things should we know as a community that you might want to share with us?” Serozi said. “We just want to get a take on where they are.”
CSX and Norfolk Southern officials did not respond today to requests for comment, and Perryman declined comment.
Norfolk Southern makes its presence known in Five Points every day with the rumbling and bumping of freight trains that pass through its yard, and the whistles sounded by engineers as they approach the Fairview Road crossing.
But the railroad does not normally invite residents to community gatherings.
“I’ve never heard of any event like this, hosted by NorfolkSouthern,” said Phil W. Poe, co-chairman of the Five Points Citizens Advisory Council. “This is really unusual.”