The state of South Carolina and the city of North Charleston signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2002 to place rail lines through the southern end of the Port of Charleston. However, the state now wants to build the rail lines through the northern end of the city–a suburban area that the mayor of North Charleston is trying to improve.
Berkeley Senator Larry Grooms took a moment in the Senate to clarify his stance on the controversial memorandum.
The MOU does not prevent South Carolina, through the Department of Commerce and public railways, or through other means, from facilitating rail traffic out of the northern end of the Navy Base.
Grooms says the memorandum does not prevent other rail lines from being built through the city. He says no matter what–
Whatever rail solution that is reached, it will not involve the State Ports Authority. The State Ports Authority does not utilize railroads. The State Ports Authority is not going to get into business of utilizing railroads. The State Ports Authority unloads boxes from ships, and shipping lines arrange for them to be moved, whether by truck or by rail. It is the port’s customers that utilize rail, that will not change.
Rather, Grooms says it is the rail companies, like CSX and Norfolk Southern, who use the rail lines.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey says the state needs to stick to its word, as stated in the memorandum. Grooms says Summey’s concerns are valid, but that cannot dictate the resolution.
I am very sensitive to what Mayor Summey says, but a political subdivision of this state should not alone dictate the terms of an important potentially transformational plan that directly affects the people of South Carolina, the efficient flow of commerce in South Carolina, and the flow of commerce throughout this nation.
Grooms says the Port Review and Oversight Commission has spent countless hours discussing the issue due to its respect for the city of North Charleston.