COLUMBIA - North Charleston officials met with leaders of the state Department of Commerce Wednesday to brief them on the city’s rail re-routing plan for lines capable of serving the new State Ports Authority terminal at the former Navy base and shipyard.
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 rail-routing plan is being done cooperatively with the CSX rail road 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 to the port traveling through the northern part of the city, where much of the city’s growth has occurred.
A memorandum of understanding was signed last week linking the entities behind the plan, which needs as must $100 million in grants or other funds to become a reality.
A Department of Commerce spokeswoman did not return phone messages. The agency’s position has been that to ensure competition, the new terminal should have dual access for both major rail providers in the area — CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Corp., which does not have direct access to the new port under the city’s plan.