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Norfolk Southern breaks ground on Atlanta HQ, names three new execs

The two-tower glass structure will feature 750,000 square feet of office space.
Photo –


Norfolk Southern Railway yesterday broke ground on its new Atlanta headquarters and named three company officers to executive positions.

NS Chairman President and Chief Executive Officer James Squires was joined by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at a groundbreaking ceremony held in Atlanta's Midtown area.

NS has hired Atlanta-based Cousins Properties to oversee construction of the new complex. Located on 3.4 acres at 650 West Peachtree St., the two-tower glass structure will feature 750,000 square feet of space. A campus-style hub will connect the towers, according to an NS press release.

Squires said the new headquarters marks a new chapter in the railroad's history. NS announced in December that it would relocate its headquarters from Norfolk, Virginia, to Atlanta. At yesterday's ceremony, Squires thanked the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Invest Atlanta for their support of the company in making the move.

“It’s a great day in Georgia when a Fortune 500 company returns home to its Atlanta roots and breaks ground on a beautiful new headquarters building in Midtown,” said Kemp in the NS press release. "Norfolk Southern is an outstanding employer and civic partner, and I look forward to seeing them grow and prosper here in Georgia.”

Through Southern Railway and other predecessor railroads, NS traces its roots in Atlanta to the mid-1840s. Currently, more than 2,000 NS employees work in Midtown Atlanta at the NS Peachtree Street operations center, which is about a mile from the headquarters site.

The site is in an area known as Tech Square, a hub of innovation and technology in Midtown Atlanta, with close ties to Georgia Tech, a source of talent for NS' management trainee program, NS officials said.

In addition, the site offers "easy access" to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, highways and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It's also close to the NS rail network, they said.

Plans call for the building to be completed and occupied by third-quarter 2021.

Meanwhile, NS also announced its board has elected three company offers to new positions. John Scheib was named executive vice president and chief strategy officer; Annie Adams, EVP and chief transformation officer; and Vanessa Allen Sutherland, senior VP of law and chief legal officer.

Scheib joined the NS law department in 2005 as an attorney. He was named VP of law in 2016; senior VP of law and corporate relations in 2017; EVP of law and administration in 2017; and EVP of law and administration and chief legal officer in 2018. In his new role, he'll oversee a new service optimization and customer engagement division that comprises strategic planning and the newly created departments of network planning and optimization and customer relations.

Adams joined NS in 2001 as a human resources manager. She became assistant VP of human resources in 2012 and was named VP of human resources in March 2016. In her new position, she will oversee a new transformation division that comprises the departments of information technology, human resources, labor relations and corporate communications.

Sutherland joined NS in 2018 as VP of law. Prior to NS, she held government and corporate legal positions, including serving as CEO and chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and as chief counsel with the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. In her new position, Sutherland will oversee legal matters.

All three will report to Squires.

"Norfolk Southern’s new strategic plan is a mission to transform our company for next-generation railroading," said Squires in a press release. "John, Annie, and Vanessa are ideally suited, and now, perfectly positioned to ‘Reimagine Possible’ to better serve customers, drive shareholder value, help employees thrive, and support the communities across our network."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/27/2019