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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Norfolk Southern balks at Charleston, S.C., rail plan

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Norfolk Southern rejects North Charleston, S.C., Mayor Keith Summey's plan to kick its trains out of key up-and-coming neighborhoods at the company's expense, and the railroad's officials say there's nothing he can do about it, The Post and Courier reports.

They say a train plan proposal by the city, competing railroad CSX Transportation and a developer puts the state at risk of losing significant port business -- including Norfolk Southern's BMW traffic -- by edging them out.

Norfolk Southern officials, virtually silent as that agreement developed and then became public, shared a plan with The Post and Courier that would continue competitive rail service in Charleston.

Summey recently signed an agreement with CSXT and Shipyard Creek Associates that calls for redevelopment of CSXT's Cooper Yard and Shipyard Creek's Macalloy property into an intermodal rail facility and warehousing space to serve a new port terminal under construction at the former Charleston Naval Base. The operation would load shipping containers onto trains two miles long for transportation to major cities such as Atlanta, Nashville and Chicago and hinges on federal funding and support from South Carolina's delegation in Washington.

It also eliminates access to the port terminal from trains traveling in from the north in and around key revitalization efforts in the Park Circle and Noisette neighborhoods. The plan holds to an agreement between the State Ports Authority and North Charleston that prohibits trains from going through the northern end of the old base.

CSXT officials released a statement saying they are "confident the plan we have developed with Mayor Summey will make the port more competitive while enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of North Charleston." The statement pointed out the company's commitment not to access the new port terminal from the north.

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