North Charleston doesn’t have enough friends in Columbia. Sens. Chip Campsen and Robert Ford have reached out to offer help, but key players in the legislature and at the Department of Commerce are convinced that the city’s rail deal with CSX won’t work.
State leaders say shared access for both CSX and competitor Norfolk Southern at the new port facility is a must. The city welcomes rail traffic, but doesn’t want any additional rail traffic heading north through the Navy Yard and on around Park Circle. Speaking to reporters Thursday, House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, seemed convinced the state couldn’t address Mayor Keith Summey’s concerns. “I’m not sure there’s a solution that works out and makes everybody happy,” Harrell said.
Senate leader Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, agreed that dual access for both companies was critically important, but he seemed much more interested in finding a solution that could work for the city.
“I would hope it’s not the intent of the state, and I don’t think it is, to run over the City of North Charleston,” McConnell said. “I think we have to be respectful of issues there.”
The senator held out hope in one of the differences in the two proposed rail plans offered by the state and CSX: the Stromboli corridor. In the CSX plan, endorsed by the city, largely industrial Stromboli Street would have provided a new cut-through for train traffic. The city had planned to pursue federal grants for the 40 acres along the road. The state plan eliminated that new track and leaders at the Department of Commerce and S.C. Public Railways have actually tried to use that as a selling point — arguing the new track would actually divide communities. McConnell sees opportunity in taking another look at Stromboli.
There’s at least one Norfolk Southern concern that the Stromboli proposal would not address. The company’s trains would still have to travel through an intersection controlled by CSX just south of Montague Avenue.
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