State lawmakers serving on the port oversight commission today heard from the region's two major rail carriers and other stakeholders in the latest chapter of a contentious debate over train service.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey recently signed an agreement with railroad company CSX Corp. and developer Shipyard Creek Associates that calls for redevelopment of CSX's Cooper Yard and Shipyard Creek's Macalloy property into a rail yard to serve a new container terminal being built nearby on the old Navy base.
CSX's primary competition, Norfolk Southern Corp., instead supports a train operation on another piece of land just to the north of Macalloy known as the Clemson property. That property, across the street from a proposed Clemson University wind-turbine research site, would let both railroads serve the new port, with Norfolk Southern coming in from the north end of the former base and CSX from the south.
Frederik Eliasson, vice president for emerging markets at CSX, pointed to his company's plan as the best option for the communities most affected by its operations.
Eliasson said CSX's partnership would eliminate some rail crossings, while upholding the State Ports Authority's commitment with North Charleston not to allow trains to run to its new terminal through the north end of the city.
Rob Martinez, vice president for business development at Norfolk Southern, countered out that the CSX proposal places not only his company but the entire Port of Charleston at a disadvantage, "because effective competition brings about tremendous benefits for shippers and the general public."
Martinez also noted that every major new terminal on the East Coast, except for private facilities in Jacksonville, provide dual access.
This week, it was also reported that one of the port's largest customers, Maersk Lines, wants both rail carriers to serve the new terminal.
Read more in Friday's editions of The Post and Courier.