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Report To The People

Senate Bill Allows Railroad To Continue

By Tommy Reynolds


At this writing House members are debating and voting on conference reports of the session – including appropriation and revenue bills.
Among those bills is Senate Bill 2975, the vehicle providing a bond allowance for the newly created 2014 North Central Mississippi Regional Rail Authority. This bill passed the House on March 31 by a vote of 119 to 3. I am very pleased to report that this measure, which I strongly supported, should enable our area to continue to realize the economic impact of a fully functioning rail line from Southaven to just north of Canton.
Specifically, the bill provides a $30 million cap on bonds enabling the rail authority to acquire the existing rail line and its right of way properties.
Language allowing the authority to enter into a lease of the railway for its intended operational purpose was provided previously in House Bill 1633, which I also co-sponsored. The proceeds of the lease are required to pay off the bonded indebtedness within 15 years.
Last year, the current owners shut down service on the railway south of Grenada. Industry, businesses and centers of commerce located all along the line have been negatively impacted by the partial shut down of service. For example, some businesses are having to ship their products north to Memphis and back south on another line to get materials to Jackson.
In this day and time when all businesses are looking for the most economic and efficient manner of doing business, rail once again is becoming a most attractive option for moving products. Not only are shipping expenses often lower via train, moving freight unimpeded along the shortest route from Point A to Point B is most often accomplished only by rail.
Any viable industrial development effort will include access to a functioning rail line as central to any approved site. Many of the industrial parks in the area served by the current rail line are dependent upon this access to thrive.
Tearing up the rail line and selling it for scrap metal was a very real threat to this important transportation system. We recognized that if the line was ever thusly destroyed, putting it back in operation would be likely impossible.
So, those of us in the legislature whose districts are served by the railway worked together for a solution. This year, our work across party lines and involving all elected and appointed leadership in the area to save the local rail line is a fine example of how government is supposed to work. It should be our mission to work together for the common good, and I believe we accomplished our goal.
Please feel free to contact me at 1720 N. Main St., Water Valley, MS 38965 , by email at thomasurey-nolds@bellsouth.net or by phone at (662)473-2571. I look forward to hearing from you on any issue that you may have.

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