Action postponed on railroad plan | News | The Press and Standard

by | August 26, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: August 24, 2016 at 1:34 pm

By GEORGE SALSBERRY
gsalsberry@lowcountry.com
Colleton County officials will have to wait until September to see if the plan to put the rail line of the former Hampton and Branchville Railroad back to work clears another major hurdle.
Representatives of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and Palmetto Railways (the county’s partners to have Palmetto Railways take over ownership of the rail line through western Colleton County) were scheduled to appear before the South Carolina Fiscal Accountability Authority, a group of state officials and  state legislators for an assessment of the fiscal viability, at the authority’s Aug. 23 meeting.
Colleton County Administrator Kevin Griffin said that the authority postponed reviewing the bond proposal until its September meeting.
The initial appearance before the authority was scheduled after the South Carolina Joint Bond Review Committee signed off on the bond proposal during its Aug. 2 meeting in Columbia.
The rail line, running from Hampton to the former Canadys Station power plant, was shut down after South Carolina Electric and Gas ceased operations at Canadys Station in 2013. The rail line was used to move coal cars to the plant.
With the line set to be sold for salvage, the county began talking with other regional and state officials about putting together a plan to purchase the 45 miles of rail line and seven properties of the family-owned company.
County Administrator Kevin Griffin explained previously that once ownership of the rail line has been finalized, the county and its partners will start marketing the former power plant site to potential businesses that could use the plant building and other sites along the rail line for their business plans.
The discussions led county officials to agree to establish the Colleton County Intermodal Corporation, a non-profit economic development group, to represent the county in the partnership.
Under the plan, Colleton County Intermodal Corporation will handle the purchase of the rail line, using $7.5 million from the sale of bonds.
Once the bonds have been issued and the purchase completed, the Colleton County Intermodal Corporation will sell the rail line to Palmetto Railways. Palmetto Railway would then use the income from the rail line to pay the principal and interest on the bonds.
The bonds are to run for 20 years; the agreement between Colleton County Intermodal Corporation and Palmetto Railways will be in effect for five years.
At that time, the county and Palmetto Railway will assess the economic viability of the rail line and determine the next step.

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