The study's findings will be presented at a Morrell Park Community Association meeting Tuesday night, and Morley said the organization hopes CSX will consider its recommendations as the company moves forward with the project.

Among the recommendations: Establish a plan to deal with the large number of rats expected to be displaced from the Mount Clare yard, limit the hours of operation, and work with local schools and homeowners to mitigate environmental problems, such as increased emissions from trucks.

The group also recommends that CSX voluntarily track air pollutants, warning that the project could increase pollutant levels above those considered dangerous by the World Health Organization.

Tazelaar said project planners are already devising ways to mitigate pollution. Truck companies are being encouraged to upgrade fleets with cleaner vehicles. Electric cranes will be used at the site instead of diesel cranes. The maximum number of truck trips will be restricted, and officials are looking to minimize truck traffic on residential streets, he said.

He said more changes are being considered, including landscaping to provide a buffer from nearby homes, and others are likely to be discussed with more public input.

"We're going to encourage economic development, but we're not going to do it without the public's input or at an extreme cost to the public," he said of the project.

Air quality is particularly worrisome in Morrell Park because residents who live in many of the homes surrounding the intermodal site are already disproportionately unhealthy compared to others in the state and city, with higher death rates from heart disease and chronic lower-respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, the study found.

The average age of residents is higher than in some city neighborhoods, the study found, making them more susceptible to pollution.

Douglas Sanders, who turns 75 this week, lives on Harman Avenue in a small home that backs up to the train tracks. Inside, his walls are lined with carpet to keep out the noise, but he's used to the clattering of the trains anyway, he said.

"I come from the old school in West Virginia. You really don't care as long as nobody comes on your property," he said of the rail yard behind him.

He shrugged at warnings of potential health impacts, noting he's survived a triple-bypass surgery and several other ailments over the years, including having twice been shot.

His neighbor John Stinchcomb, 72, also said he doesn't mind the noise. He spent 32 years living in a home that backed up to train tracks in Pigtown and has been in his home that backs up to the tracks in Morrell Park for 12, he said.

"It don't bother me," he said. "We kind of like sitting watching" the trains pass by, he said.

Still, other residents, like Weishorn, fear the intermodal facility will make their neighborhood unbearable. She loves her home and how quickly she can zip down Washington Boulevard to her work in Harbor East, she said, but she doesn't feel that her concerns are being addressed.

"While this isn't a palace to some people, it is my palace, and I have a lot of concerns," Weishorn said of her home. "I know this neighborhood isn't, you know, Howard County, with $500,000 houses, but it's a community."

krector@baltsun.com

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