North Charleston and State Reach Rail Deal

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Dec 042012

SC Public RailwayNorth Charleston City Council gave its approval Tuesday to a settlement with S.C. Public Railways that provides for most of the state’s demands for new rail access on the former Navy Base. In exchange, the city will receive $8 million in cash and $6.5 million to resolve debt, along with land around the city’s Waterfront Park.

In the rail deal, the city walks away from fights over condemnation at the Navy base, as well as a claim against rail access to the new port site from the north end of the Navy base.

We will post more details as they come available. There is a public discussion of this being held tomorrow night, Wednesday the 5th, and we will know much more then. All in all though this is excellent news for the Charleston area. The legal fights, and fees, should go away, rail growth can move forward which will also aid port growth, and North Charleston will hopefully see some good new jobs created.

To see the full report from the North Charleston Patch, check out their article.

Impasse Hit Between State and North Charleston

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Sep 172012

According to the Post & Courier, talks between the state and the city of North Charleston about how to provide rail service to a future shipping terminal on the former Navy base have gone off track.

The breakdown raises the likelihood of a costly court fight early next year that could have profound repercussions for the state’s budget and the quality of life in its third-largest city.

For more on this story, please check out the Post & Courier’s article.

CSX 5502

Judge Throws Out North Charleston’s Rail Complaint

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Apr 272012

CSX In North CharlestonAccording to an article in the Post & Courier, North Charleston has lost the first skirmish in what could be a long and grueling legal war over the state’s plans to put an intermodal rail yard on the former Charleston Naval Base.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said today he will dismiss a federal complaint the city brought against the S.C. Department of Commerce and the State Ports Authority. He said the rail yard plans remain in an early stage and the harm to the city isn’t clear — other than some potential buyers being discouraged from locating on the base.

SC Public Railways Expands Efforts at Former Base

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Apr 072012

SC Public RailwaySouth Carolina Public Railways on Thursday announced demolition plans of old, unsafe buildings located on the former Navy base.
“In an ongoing effort to clean up and promote redevelopment efforts on the former Navy base we have begun demolishing buildings that are either unsafe or unsightly to those who work on and visit the base,” said Jeff McWhorter, president and CEO of South Carolina Public Railways.
Since acquiring a majority of the Noisette property on the former Navy base in 2010, South Carolina Public Railways continues to invest in infrastructure and improvements to help spur additional economic development activity on the base.
Demolition work is currently underway at the former Navy base security headquarters building and the federal credit union offices located near the old McMillan Avenue gate in North Charleston. The security headquarters building has been razed, and demolition work will start soon for the credit union building. Total cost of the demolition project is roughly $30,000. Continue reading »

Permit Requirement Stalls Rail Line

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Mar 062012

A federal Department of Transportation grant to improve a rail line is caught between the state and the city of North Charleston as both entities promote plans for a rail yard on the former Navy base.

SC Public RailwayThe department awarded a $248,934 grant to S.C. Public Railways to relocate and realign an S-curve in North Charleston. The S-curve has contributed to several derailments, according to a Department of Transportation news release, and realigning it will improve efficiency by removing speed restrictions and improving line capacity. The rail line runs down Noisette Boulevard and curves along Turnbull Avenue, said North Charleston spokesman Ryan Johnson.

“The S-curve realignment has been needed for many years and is necessary to safely operate the rail line, meet the service requirements of (S.C. Public Railway’s) customers and support Clemson’s Wind Turbine Testing facility,” said Amy Love, spokeswoman for the state Department of Commerce, in an email. “The realignment is not related to the proposed plans for a regional dual-access intermodal container transfer facility in North Charleston.”

But, Johnson said, to use the grant and fix the rail line, S.C. Public Railways needs a Land Disturbance Permit from North Charleston.

“There are a number of folks from whom (S.C. Public Railways) would need to secure consent for the project to proceed and, to date, the city has yet to see a meeting of the minds emerge that would permit the project to move forward,” said Ray Anderson, special assistant to Mayor Keith Summey.

Anderson said the rail issue needs to be solved by “looking comprehensively at the needs and obstacles in order to find solutions that work” for the former Navy base. “Rail done right also involves the state being mindful of promises made not just to the city but also to many property owners on the base,” Anderson said.

The city and state have proposed competing rail plans for the former Navy base, and the controversy has spilled into court.

The state proposes to offer dual access to an intermodal rail yard on the former Navy base and has condemned land for the rail yard and purchased hundreds of acres out of foreclosure. The state’s plan allows Norfolk Southern to access the facility from the north, while CSX Corp. would access the facility from the south. The rail yard would serve container terminals at the S.C. State Ports Authority.

North Charleston argues that arrangement violates a 2002 memorandum of understanding between the ports authority and the city. The memorandum calls for rail access to port property only through the southern end of the container terminal.

For more on this most recent development, the ongoing dispute, and the rather nasty discourse that took place recently, please visit the originating Charleston Regional Business Journal article.

Transportation Secretary Lahood Announces $17 Million for Rail Line Relocation Projects

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Mar 022012

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced today that twelve cities and states will share $16.9 million to relocate, replace, and Railway Projectsimprove segments of railroad track under the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)’s Rail Line Relocation and Improvement competitive grant program.

The FRA received more than $67 million in state and local government requests for these funds, which will be used to enhance safety, livability, and economic development in American communities.

Included in those dollars is money for one project in South Carolina put forth by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and South Carolina Public Railways, an S-Curve Realignment.  $248,934 has been allocated to relocate and realign an S-curve in North Charleston that has contributed to several derailments. The reduced curvature will also improve operating efficiency by alleviating restrictions on train speeds and enhancing line capacity.

For a list of all of the projects and their funding, see this announcement.

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