Close to 70 people from a
wide array of business, economic development and state and local organizations
joined forces July 7 to implore members of the federal Surface Transportation
Board to refuse to allow Maine, Montreal & Atlantic Railway to abandon 233
miles of tracks that run through Aroostook and Penobscot counties, the Bangor
Daily News reports.
The long-running commercial
rail saga in North Charleston, S.C., has taken another turn, and a resolution
could finally be in sight, the South Carolina Business Journal reports. The
Business Journal has learned that the city has drafted a memorandum of
understanding with development firm Shipyard Creek Associates and railroad
operator CSX Transportation that, if approved by City Council, would eliminate
rail service to the former Navy base from the north in favor of a new southern
City Council will be
presented with the memorandum during its 7 p.m. meeting July 8.
A southern line would
satisfy a 2002 memorandum of understanding penned by North Charleston and the
S.C. State Ports Authority in which the SPA agreed to "use rail access
exclusively from the south end of the property." That document has been a
source of contention among city leaders, who backed the agreement, and state
officials, who claim the memorandum didn't pertain to them.
Under the latest proposal,
CSXT would abandon rights of way from a to-be-determined point between Clement
Avenue and Viaduct Road northward to just past the intersection at Braddock
Road. In return, North Charleston would assist CSXT in acquiring city-owned
property making up the new route. North Charleston would also pay CSXT between
$3 million and $5 million in tax-increment financing revenue for the old rights
Shipyard Creek Associates,
meanwhile, would move ahead with construction of an intermodal facility on its
Macalloy property, a project it's been pitching for years. That Macalloy site
is located practically adjacent to the container terminal being constructed by
the State Ports Authority on the former Navy base and would serve as a rail
yard for CSXT.
In the past, officials from
the state and CSXT's chief rival, Norfolk Southern, have claimed that such an
arrangement would be unfair. Those officials have trumpeted the need for dual
access to the port terminal and said that Norfolk Southern would be at
competitive disadvantage if it had to pay CSX for access to its tracks.
The threat of northern rail
access loomed, but North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey is now close to
vanquishing that possibility. He said that the proposed memorandum provides
"Is it equal dual access?"
Summey said. "I don't know if that's available at any port."
The new plan relies heavily
on federal grant financing and the "existence of sufficient property tax
revenues to permit bonding against city TIF districts."
Summey said that a series
of federal grants over a period of several years would be needed to pay for the
project and that the parties involved will move ahead in seeking those funds if
the memorandum of understanding is approved.
In Austin, Texas, a new
piece of equipment intended to keep trains on the track may have contributed to
two recent freight train derailments, including one July 7 that forced the
cancellation of all morning MetroRail trains and blocked Seventh Street traffic
for several hours, Capital Metro officials told the Austin American Statesman.
TÜV Rheinland®, a leader in
global market access, has acquired Rail Sciences, Inc. (RSI), a rail industry
consulting firm and train dynamics specialist headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.,
with an advanced testing and metallurgical analysis laboratory in Omaha, Neb.
The National Gateway has launched
its FacebookTM and TwitterTM social media channels.
In January, President
Obama announced that Maine was awarded $35 million in American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act funds for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.
On July 7, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the U.S.
Department of Transportation and the State of Maine have finalized a grant
agreement allowing work to begin on the rehabilitation and expansion of the
popular state-supported Downeaster Amtrak intercity passenger service.
Intergraph Corp., a provider
of engineering and geospatial software, has signed a definitive agreement to be
acquired by Hexagon AB, a measurement technology company, in a transaction
valued at approximately $2.125 billion. Upon closing of the transaction,
Intergraph will operate as a separate Hexagon division under the Intergraph
name and branding.
Incorporated has acquired a minority interest in Charlotte, N.C.-based
BLUERIDGE Analytics , Inc., provider of SITEOPS, site-design-optimization
technology that utilizes cloud computing to save substantial time and cost
while improving land development outcomes. SITEOPS, a patented web-based application,
empowers civil engineering professionals, real estate developers and land
planners to quickly perform site configuration simulations, produce preliminary
cost estimates, optimize site designs, and reduce overall costs.
With temperatures expected
to reach the upper-90s or higher through this week, Philadelphia's SEPTA is
taking a number of steps to prevent heat-related disruptions to customers. SEPTA
officials are monitoring the system for potential infrastructure-related issues
that can be caused by excessive heat, such as sagging overhead power lines and
track buckling. To help prevent these problems, SEPTA is slightly reducing the
maximum speeds for some trains. This adjustment also reduces the amount of
electricity needed to run the trains, which helps cut down SEPTA's overall draw
on the region's power system. In addition to this effort, SEPTA is taking all
possible measures to minimize energy consumption at its maintenance facilities,
offices and stations.