Federal officials appear close to granting a key permit for a proposed railroad line which would serve a new Volvo automotive plant in Berkeley County.
The Surface Transportation Board’s draft environmental assessment of the 28-mile Camp Hill line states “impacts on the resources evaluated… were all considered minimal, with the exception of impacts on… wetlands and noise/vibration.”
State-owned Palmetto Railways would operate the line to carry roughly 50,000 finished Volvo automobiles at the Ridgeville plant to a distribution center in Columbia. The vehicles must currently be taken more than 80 miles northwest by truck.
The public will have a chance to comment through December 30. The assessment was first reported by the Charleston Post & Courier earlier this week.
If approved, the Camp Hill line would extend Palmetto Railways’ current terminus from a Santee Cooper coal plant in Cross. The project would impact roughly 100 acres of wetland and require a new bridge and office buildings in the Camp Hall Business Park.
If approved by the board, Palmetto Railways plans to buy credits in an existing wetlands mitigation bank to offset the damage.
The railroad says work to build the line will take about two years. Volvo opened its Ridgeville plant in June.