Megasite breaks ground on new water tank


Photo by Lindsey Frazier/Messenger: Etowah County officials and officials from Alabama Power, Norfolk Southern and Railway Age break ground on a new 500,000-gallon elevated water storage tank at the Northeast Alabama Regional Megasite on Tuesday, August 15.

By Lindsey Frazier, Editorial Assistant

The Northeast Alabama Regional Megasite is one step closer to welcoming industrial partners after a groundbreaking event held Tuesday, August 15.
The event celebrated a new 500,000-gallon elevated water storage tank. Officials from Etowah County Commission, Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority, Alabama Department of Commerce, Norfolk Southern Railway, Alabama Power Company, the City of Rainbow City and members of the community gathered to celebrate the milestone.
“This all started because Craig [Inzer], myself and Jim Turnbach got together in a room and had a hair-brained idea that we could actually cooperate in government,” said Rainbow City Mayor Joe Taylor. “We always talk about the two things that matter most to all of us, which is going to be cooperation and connectivity, and this is that connectivity part.”
The water tower signifies Phase 3 of the Megasite project. Phase 1 covered the construction of a 70-acre, rail-serviced, pad-ready site, as well as a railroad crossing and relocation of the natural gas line to the perimeter of the property. According to Railway Age Executive Editor Marybeth Luczak, Phase 2 extended the pad to 100 acres and constructed a new connecting road to local thoroughfares.
“The addition of the water tank is a critical piece of the infrastructure needed to solidify the NEAR Megasite as the premier industrial site in the south,” said Gadsden-Etowah IDA Director David Hooks. “We are extremely excited about the doors it opens for recruiting industry to Alabama and Etowah County specifically.”
In 2008, the NEAR Commission purchased the first 675 acres of the now 1,100 acres of the NEAR site, which according to Norfolk Southern was the largest tract of industrial property in north Alabama designated as an Alabama Advantage Site. To date, Norfolk Southern has donated $8.7 million dollars to the development of the site.
“This [water tank] will be the solution to the site’s biggest challenge,” said Norfolk Southern Corporation Senior Industrial Development Manager Daniel Parker. “We are blessed in a lot of ways to help push this forward, but the vision here really started with Etowah County. You all showed us the great part of being here in Etowah County and the people here and the workforce.”
The completely county-owned site is powered by Alabama Power, and a new substation is under construction. Currently, 115 kV of electricity is available. Natural gas is provided by Southern Natural Gas, Spire and the Boaz Gas Board. Water and sewer is provided by the City of Rainbow City. Telecommunications is available in both fiber and copper provided by COMCAST.
“The key is collaboration and groups working together,” said Alabama Power Eastern Division Vice President Terry Smiley. “It is important for us to invest in the communities we serve and then to also partner with other community leaders to enhance the quality of life of people across this state. This I-59 corner is prime for positive growth. The reason why we are going to grow is because we have these leaders who have come together.”


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