COLUMBIA -- North Charleston officials met with leaders of the state Department of Commerce on Wednesday for a briefing on the city's rail rerouting plan for lines capable of serving the new State Ports Authority terminal at the former Navy base.
Nothing was formally decided at the session, which was North Charleston's first face-to-face meeting with Commerce officials in at least nine months.
Two state senators, Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, and Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, also attended.
Mayor Keith Summey called the 90-minute sit-down "cordial."
"We made the presentation, and they said they'd get back to us," he said, adding that no timetable was set. "I don't think it was negative. As long as their minds are open, that's all we can ask."
North Charleston's plan is being done cooperatively with the CSX railroad line and local developer Shipyard Creek Associates.
It calls for reconnecting neighborhoods through three major moves: closing about three miles of current CSX track, creating a half mile of new track and rebuilding another half mile of mostly dormant track.
Summey insists it is the best way to preserve neighborhoods and to prevent rail lines capable of serving the port from traveling through the northern part of the city. A memorandum of understanding was signed last week linking the three entities behind the plan, which needs as much as $100 million in grants or other funds to become a reality.
Department of Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor released a statement after the sit-down saying that with the terminal opening in 2017 "we have time to ensure the right regional rail solution is developed that will maximize the benefits for both North Charleston and the entire state."
He continued, "As a regional rail solution is developed, Commerce and (the Division of) Public Railways are committed to a solution with the least impact that will yield the highest number of jobs for the local and state economies. Commerce and Public Railways continue to believe that the regional rail solution must provide equal access for both CSX and Norfolk Southern."
The department has long held that in the interests of competition, rail access in the vicinity of the new port be available to both of the area's major carriers. Norfolk Southern is not guaranteed access under the city's plan.
"We appreciate Mayor Summey's willingness to present the details of this proposal, and we will take their ideas into consideration," Taylor added.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551 or email@example.com.