Railway expansion causes division between city and port

Local opposition may derail State Ports Authority plans for railway expansion at a new container terminal.The State Port’s Authority is building a new container terminal at the former Navy base in North Charleston and plans call for an expansion of railways and better access for trucks.
“We’ve reached a point where we seem to have stagnated in terms of progress with the port and rail access and this is a means of facilitating that somewhat,” says Merrill.
Author of a port restructuring bill, Representative Jim Merrill of Daniel Island, says the railroads in the city of North Charleston have been there longer than the city lines. The port’s two main railroad companies, Norfolk Southern and CSX, are within miles of each other, but now, Merrill says there are plans to talk with each company to provide one railway site on base through the South Carolina Public Railways, making shippers and truckers happier.
“The reality is¬†that there is a port that is being constructed there, in order to minimize traffic and congestion and still make the port viable, there needs to be both truck access and rail access,” says Merrill.
North Charleston Mayor Keith¬†Summey and other city officials say they are upset with the plans because they were not consulted. The city says bringing trains in from the North would clog areas and disrupt communities. As Merrill sees it, the railroads could be put to use for the port of Charleston’s business and allow everyone to benefit.
“I think that all of this is going to end up being constructive and be good for the state as a whole, in terms of making the Port’s Authority more viable, putting North Charleston in a good position to negotiate its future and moving things along for the Lowcountry too,” Merrill says.
Merrill looks forward to meeting with Mayor Summey to work out the fine points of the plans. The restructuring bill was passed by a House subcommittee, now it is expected to move to the full House Judiciary Committee this month.