Senator Larry Grooms heard Tuesday about North Charleston’s federal lawsuit over port rail placement— and called it unfortunate:
I’m a little disappointed in the mayor’s actions and the city of North Charleston. The Port Oversight Committee continues our work to try to develop a plan and try and have it endorsed by the state of South Carolina, and we haven’t done that. So far, the Department of Commerce is moving forward with their plan, and I understand the mayor of North Charleston and CSX and their partners is moving forward with their plan. So, we have two competing plans and I do believe the solution is somewhere in the middle.
Grooms is the chair of the state Senate Transportation Committee and has been involved in the dispute over where rail lines should run to the port. North Charleston is fighting what they see as a disruption to business and quality of life for a fast-growing, high-end community.
A rail solution that benefits the residents may be out of reach. I hope not. I’d like to be able to achieve that and that’s what I’ve been working for: A rail solution that meets the needs of South Carolina and meets the needs of the local residents in North Charleston.
Grooms says the new port funding announcement shows the importance of the port to the state…
Now, the mayor’s actions cast a little bit of doubt. The port is important for the economic growth of South Carolina. To have such action that is aimed at stopping the growth of the port really hurts the entire state, so I’m a little disappointed.
Senator Grooms’ argument is that the basis for the city’s suit– a memo of agreement between them and the Ports Authority– is trumped by the state.
The Berkeley County senator says there has been no change in the rail plan since the agreement was signed:
But, in building a new terminal, having the need for greater rail movements with the other two terminals that are on the neck of Charleston, you’re going to have to move cargo more efficiently, and the only answer to moving that is by rail, which requires more rail planning, some improvements. So, you could end up moving more cargo with less impacts to the community–that’s what we are trying to achieve, and I don’t know that that is going to be achieved by going into federal court.
North Charleston plans to sue the Army Corps of Engineers and some state agencies over what they say could be a breach of the memo of agreement.