North Charleston panel OKs traffic study on rail impact

The Post and Courier by Brenda Rindge

The State Ports Authority had two reasons to celebrate when the Journal of Commerce this month unveiled its latest rankings of the nation's most efficient maritime facilities.

A North Charleston City Council committee took steps this week to look at how rail and highway traffic from a future port terminal will affect residents and how to deal with the impacts.

In 2012, the city settled a lawsuit with the State Ports Authority, the S.C. Department of Commerce, Palmetto Railway and the state of South Carolina over the proposed construction of a rail yard to be built the south end of the former Navy base.

Part of the settlement called for the $376,000 study. It will be funded equally by the city, the SPA, Palmetto Railways and the S.C. Department of Transportation.

The study will focus on Durant, North Rhett, Rivers/Harley and other road crossings affected by freight trains entering and exiting the rail yard to the north end of the former base, through Park Circle.

The city is moving forward with the study, despite bids from freight haulers CSX and Norfolk Southern to consolidate access through a southern route because waiting would delay the project, Mayor Keith Summey said.

The proposal will go before City Council at its meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The state-owned rail yard would serve a new terminal the ports authority is building to handle container ships at the south end of the old Navy base.