Published Sept. 29, 2015
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, is reviewing a new proposal from Palmetto Railways to build two connections to the existing rail network as part of its planned container facility in North Charleston.
Palmetto Railways, an arm of the state Commerce Department, has been planning to build the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility at the former Navy base in North Charleston for several years to serve the Port of Charleston.
In a filing (.pdf) submitted to the Charleston District on Sept. 8, Palmetto Railways proposed replacing its original route along Spruill Avenue to Bexley Avenue with two other routes:
Additional changes include:
The Army Corps held an initial meeting about Palmetto Railways’ project in November 2013 and began gathering information about the site in 2014. The project has since changed to include a new southern rail connection and realignment of the northern rail connection.
“The purpose of the proposed project is, in brief, to provide a state-of-the-art intermodal hub to serve the Port of Charleston with equal access to the two Class I rail carriers serving the area ... to meet future demand, as the existing individual CSX and NS intermodal rail yards are reaching capacity,” Palmetto Railways President and CEO Jeff McWhorter said in a letter to the corps.
The ports authority board adopted a resolution during its September meeting to transfer about 29 acres of property at the former Navy base to Palmetto Railways. The property was originally included as part of a larger parcel leased by the port in 1999 for the development of the Navy Base Terminal.
The Charleston District is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the project’s potential social, economic and environmental impacts on the surrounding area.
“The corps believes these changes to the proposed project are substantial because they would result in impacts to roadways, industrial areas and neighborhoods that were not considered during the preparation of the EIS,” the corps said in a statement.
McWhorter said in the letter that the changes to the Spruill Avenue route would eliminate potential impacts to Chicora-Cherokee neighborhoods and the additional southern line would give CSX direct access to the container yard.
The Charleston District has set a public meeting to get feedback for further evaluation. The meeting will be Oct. 27 at Military Magnet Academy at 2950 Carner Ave. in North Charleston. An open house will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and the meeting and presentation will be from 7 to 9 p.m. The public comment period ends Nov. 27.