NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Palmetto Railways unveiled their latest plans for a new cargo transportation facility at the old Navy Base in North Charleston.
The 118-acre Intermodal Facility will be a hub where trains, trucks and ships can exchange cargo.
Patrick McCrory, Chief Commerical Officer for Palmetto Railways, says as the local economy continues to grow, the demand for transporting goods in and out of the area is also growing.
"It's really driven heavily by the ports growth," McCrory said. "We have a very deep harbor already and we're going to be deepening it further."
The proposed facility will include rail lines, electrical cranes, stacked containers and administrative buildings. It is expected to take more freight trucks off of I-26, moving cargo on rail and off the road.
In fact, Palmetto Railways says one intermodal train can carry the load of 280 trucks.
New tracks will be laid heading north and south from the yard, on Palmetto Railways property. Work will also be done to connect to existing rail lines owned by CSX or Norfolk Southern, McCrory said.
The plan also includes several improvements to surrounding infrastructure. The idea most supported by neighbors would build an overpass for pedestrians and motorists that connects Cosgrove and McMillan Avenues.
"That's actually not a bad idea, that's kind of a better way to get traffic in and out of the base," Park Circle resident Jerry Lahm said.
Lahm said he understands the importance of the facility but feels the projected train tracks fall too close to homes.
"There has to be a balance between growth and paying attention to the neighbors," Lahm said.
Lahm said his neighborhood's biggest concerns involved noise, air quality and traffic.
"We already have problems in Park Circle with the trains stopping and we're stuck in traffic for ten to 15 minutes and these trains are going to be at least as long, if not longer," Lahm said.
Palmetto Railways says they're taking neighbors' opinions into account and have already made changes to the noise buffer measures they were going to build between the neighborhoods and rail line.
Plans have been changed from a special noise abatement wall to high mounds of dirt, with trees planted on top.
The Navy Base Intermodal Facility project is currently being studied by the Army Corps of Engineers for its environmental impact. McCrory said results from that will available by the end of April and if all goes to plan, this facility will be up and running by the end of 2018.
For more information about the project and public comment, visit www.navybaseictf.com.