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Greater Elkridge Protesters Get Rep. Sarbanes' Attention

John Sarbanes responds to "Stop Intermodal Now" signs.

It was not a surprise that there were demonstrators out protesting the intermodal facility when Rep. John Sarbanes, D-MD, visited Elkridge, said his staff.

The congress member made an appearance at the  on Wednesday to keep his constituents up to date about what's going on in Washington.

Before he began his presentation, however, Sarbanes stopped to meet with greater Elkridge residents holding protest signs outside.

For several minutes, Sarbanes listened to citizens who live near Hanover and Race Roads, one of four areas that state and railroad officials are considering for a train-truck depot.

Residents cited noise, pollution, lack of transparency and health hazards among reasons they want their neighborhood removed from the list of potential sites.

"I don't want to prejudge the process," said Sarbanes, stating that he was looking to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to identify and address any concerns they had. The federal NEPA process is a 12-month assessment of the effect a project could have on the environment and community.

To that, the seven residents unanimously responded that the NEPA process was a formality. 

"The NEPA process is not a very good thing for the people who are impacted," said Pam Bertrand, who lives near the Hanover site. "At the end of the process, the way that it's approved is the leading agency says, 'Did you follow the process?' And that's your approval. If you can follow a process, you win."

Others noted that even if wetlands or state parkland are in the way, the project may not be stopped.

"I commend the community for stepping up and into this process," Sarbanes told Patch last month, during his "" of Howard County, a sentiment he echoed on Wednesday, telling the residents they were doing a "good job."

He said that he will be meeting with CSX and MDOT to get more information on the intermodal project in the coming weeks.

Three of the four sites are within his jurisdiction: two in Howard County (Hanover/Race Roads, Montevideo Road) and one in Anne Arundel County (Brock Bridge Road). The other proposed site, which is not in his jurisdiction, is in Prince George's County.

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