When North Charleston agreed to the port terminal expansion in their area, they did not agree to rail lines coming through their city. At least that’s according to Mayor Keith Summey and Councilman Ed Astle.
“Back in 2002, October, North Charleston and the State Port Authority signed a memorandum of understanding, and in that memorandum everybody agreed to no container rail traffic out the northern end of the base,” says Astle.
Astle says they now want to break the deal.
“But they’re going about it in a real sneaky way. Senator Grooms attached an amendment to the budget bill, saying basically, ‘we’re gonna ignore that agreement and any and all of the railroad tracks that are on any formerly federal property, are ours now and the State Department of Commerce, the Division of Public Railways it’s their railroads and we can do whatever we want,’ ” says Astle.
Mayor Summey sent a letter to Orangeburg County Economic Development last week to object to the request of $278 million for expanding the rail lines through the Port of Charleston. Orangeburg County Economic Development wants the expansion for a multimillion dollar distribution park near Santee. Astle explains why he thinks traffic north of the port is a bad idea.
“We are slowly revitalizing it, yeah, I know it’s taking time, some things take time, ya know, the economy shifts and changes, but it’s really gonna destroy what we’ve been able to accomplish and are trying to accomplish in the future,” says Astle.
“We want to revitalize that whole area, and nobody’s gonna wanna move in there if all of a sudden you got 20 to 30 trains going through there,” says Astle.
The area around the port has been known as a more “underutilized ” area, and the mayor and city council has worked recently on rebuilding it. The claim is that North Charleston will not be able to do that if the rail lines are expanded. Mayor Summey and North Charleston residents rallied Tuesday night to protest linking these rail lines at the northern end of the city.