Rail debate continues; State explains plan

By Eric

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV){} -- The state's controversial rail plan was presented to the public in North Charleston.

A member from the commerce department's rail system was in town Monday night, to tell the public why their plan should remain on track.

It's the same line the city is suing over.

State representative David Mack says people living in North Charleston need a voice, and need to be told what will happen, if and when a new railroad is built.

"There are people in the southern part of the city of North Charleston who are very concerned, also in terms of their quality of life," says Mack.

Mack supports the state's plan to build a line that runs through the north part of town. He says it will give the port terminal dual access; it's smarter economically and better for the people.

"I'm personally concerned if you double the rail in the southern part of North Charleston, you've got more congestion, pollution," he says. "It will be tough for emergency vehicles to get in and out."

At the same time, North Charleston and Mayor Keith Summey are suing South Carolina. The city blames the state for backing out on a promise to keep rail out of the north end. North Charleston says state leaders want to condemn 70 acres at the old navy base including parts of the Clemson University property.

"At the end of the day, the real battle is does the state have to keep its promise to the city or can they just break it when they want to?" says North Charleston city attorney, Brady Hair.

"You have all kinds of parties involved, we want a good system," Mack says. "The rail system is critical we understand that, the port is critical for our economic development."

The new rail line would support the future port terminal in North Charleston.

The commerce department maintains North Charleston's agreement was with the State Ports Authority and therefore, is not binding.

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