Proposed North Charleston facility would replace big trucks with trains

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Jane Brown has lived in North Charleston for more than 50 years, all of them near a train track.

"I was walking one morning, come back on South Rhett to get to my house. I stood there over an-hour-and-a-half waiting for the train to get across the track."

Residents like Brown may see even more tracks in the next four to five years. Palmetto Railways is proposing building several railways or a transfer facility at the former Charleston Naval Complex.

The take big rigs off the roads.

The bulk of the new railways would run parallel to Spruill Avenue, between McMillan and Viaduct Road. The project's manager says the new lines would connect to existing railroads.

"You have containers that are coming off of the ships at the Port of Charleston, and then they would be taken by truck to a rail facility, and then leave the facility by rail…In essence, you're taking trucks off the road and putting them on to rail," explains Nat Ball, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Palmetto Railways is behind the proposal. Officials say they considered two other sites in North Charleston and approached the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the location along Spruill Avenue.

The main concerns raised Tuesday were traffic and noise. The founder of Lowcountry Orphan Relief says she handpicked their location off of St. Johns Avenue.

"We're on 526," says Lynn Young. "We're on I-26. We're right by the Department of Social Services."

She say while she appreciates the meetings and information, she's worried they will have to relocate.

"They say it's going to be two to two-and-a-half years down the road before they even began anything. Well, we're losing a lot of sleep over it just now."

The proposal is in the early stages and the design could change. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on an environmental study. Officials say it will be ready sometime next year, and at that time there will be a public hearing.

The estimated cost for the new facility is between $180 and $190 million.

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