Deerin to lead Lowcountry Lowline project in Charleston

VIDEO: Deerin to lead Lowcountry Lowline project in Charleston
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Project plans for a section of the railroad that runs parallel to I-26 in downtown Charleston are being headed by a former mayoral candidate.

Ginny Deerin has been named the lead general consultant and interim Executive Director of Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline.

Trains haven't run the rails through Charleston in decades.

The tracks hide behind overgrown shrubs, a simple reminder of the past.

Now one local group wants to change that focus, to the future through the Lowline project.

"It involves mobility and green space, and re-knitting neighborhoods that were separated by the Interstate 26 coming through," Deerin said.

The project would run 1.6 miles from Courtland to Woolfe Streets in between King and Meeting Streets.

"I think it's a great idea," said Donald Allen, who passes the tracks daily. "It's way overdue, and it will help beautify this part of town, and connect to downtown."

Deerin believes this project will have an enormous impact on the city.

She said the success seen in New York City with its high line project, is possible here.

" the potential for economic development, neighborhoods, and re-knitting neighborhoods and mobility so that people can get around in a way that really works for them," Deerin said.

"A greenway is the best way to go, because right now all you have is just tracks, and nobody is really utilizing it," Allen said.

In a statement Lowcountry Lowline's plans to transform the railroad into "a linear park: part trail, part promenade, part meeting place – a concourse for community and art-related activities."

With large-scale projects like this though, there is a possibly of hurting lower-income families who live along the Lowline.

"I think one of the challenges and responsibilities that the Lowline has, and excites me, is really bringing people together," Deerin said. "So that people aren't excluded from it. So it's not just nice for one group of people."

"The big objective of our organization is to make sure we do everything here in context with the neighborhoods," said Board Chairman of LLL, Tom Bradford. "If we're going to improve it, we also want to give people economic opportunities along with the project."

Deerin added there are several areas where development for lower-income housing could be built in the future.

Currently the group is busy putting together design and financing plans for the project.

Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline have a two year contract with Norfolk Southern Corp., who owns the rail, to purchase the section of the track.

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