Grant to aid Mississippi port rail project

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor, Railway Track & Structures; and Engineering Editor, Railway Age

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has been awarded a $574,000 grant to fund planning, surveying and permitting for a 4,300-foot rail connection serving the Port of Pascagoula in Jackson County.

The grant awarded to MDEQ, which was announced by U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss), as well as Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss), is being provided as part of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The legislation provides funding for Gulf Coast states affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

“Better rail infrastructure will help Mississippi businesses more efficiently move their products to markets and will support our ports as hubs of commerce and trade,” said Sen. Wicker. “This grant lays the groundwork for a rail link that will reduce rail congestion and improve safety.”

The port is directly served by CSX, and via connection to Canadian National.

The connection is a component of the Port of Pascagoula’s Intermodal Improvement Project to establish a more efficient rail connection to the port. The port is looking to construct a connection between the rail bridge over the Escatawpa River to the new route made possible by a FY13 $14 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. This connection will route unit trains from the existing Mississippi Export Railroad line on to the newly re-established line, funded by the TIGER grant. Preliminary estimates show the cost of 4,300 feet of rail, one bridge box, two yard switches, and additional materials to cost approximately $6.4 million.

“This sort of investment to improve infrastructure on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is needed to realize the full potential of the Port of Pascagoula. The planning and surveying work is an important step to making this Jackson County rail project a reality,” Hyde-Smith said.

“This project will increase commerce for the port authority and provide new opportunities in Jackson County. These are RESTORE Act funds that will be used for another sound infrastructure investment on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and will assist the Jackson County Port Authority in beginning a year-long multi-faceted intermodal project,” Palazzo said.

This grant was approved by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Gulf Coast Restoration.

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