ARC Funds Study on C&G Railway Corridor
STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI, April 14, 2009—U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope announced today a $100,000 grant to Mississippi State University (MSU) to conduct a study that will assess the feasibility of re-establishing rail service along a major section of the Columbus and Greenville (C&G) Railway. In addition to the ARC grant, local sources will provide $75,000 in additional funding for the study.
The C&G Railway, which consists of over 200 miles of mainline track running across the breadth of Mississippi, represents an important transportation and logistics resource for communities and businesses in the state. Approximately 93 miles of its rail line in central/eastern Mississippi are in disrepair and can no longer support train operations. This has served to limit market access and made area businesses less competitive.
A significant investment would be required to restore this stretch of the C&G Railway. MSU will work with the public and private sectors to evaluate necessary right-of-way improvements and will also prepare a plan that would guide the restoration of rail services to improve local access to markets and enhance business activity and job growth in the region.
Wicker stated, "Increasing rail capacity in central and eastern Mississippi would greatly enhance the region's economic engine. I am glad ARC has partnered in this effort. It represents a great example of the federal government working with state and local governments to grow our economy."
Pope noted the timeliness of the study: "It comes at an opportune time, when we have to take advantage of every asset that we have to stay competitive in the global economy. Those assets include each component of our intermodal transportation system, whether air, highways, or rail. This study will assess the economic potential of restoring the C&G railroad to its full vitality."
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said he was "very pleased ARC will fund this study to explore re-establishing rail service in this corridor, where I believe the potential exists to open up new markets for goods and services and create much-needed jobs. Finding additional safe and efficient transportation routes is a key element in Mississippi's economic growth and development."
MSU President Mark Keenum said, "Good rail service is a key component of economic development and job creation activities for any region. Mississippi State University is pleased to be involved in this effort to engage with public and private entities to help chart a path toward advancing rail improvements along this important corridor."
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran said he was "glad the Appalachian Regional Commission is providing funding to research the feasibility of restoring portions of the Columbus and Greenville Railway line that are in disrepair. This rail corridor is important for cross-state commerce in Mississippi, and I hope that the study will reveal a way for the line to be restored."
Congressman Gregg Harper commented that "the potential for an enhanced C&G Railway could bring growth to the north-central portion of Mississippi. I am confident that Mississippi State University will provide the needed expertise and resources to help determine the feasibility of reestablishing this railway in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission and economic development authorities throughout the Third Congressional District."
Congressman Travis Childers also noted that "restoring these rail services could have a potentially positive impact on promoting economic development throughout the corridor, increasing Mississippi's competitiveness, and creating jobs. Additionally, opening a rail corridor from the Tenn-Tom Waterway to the Mississippi River could be a great advantage from a national security standpoint. These significant funds will allow our state to make an informed decision as to whether or not the potential benefits of repairing the railroad outweigh the costs."