State on track to run a railroad
April 8, 2001
Despite misgivings in some quarters, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove puts the state of Mississippi on track for getting into the railroad business Monday. With the stroke of a pen, he will sign into law a bill authorizing $40 million for the state to buy and rebuild a railroad line between Hattiesburg and the Gulf Coast.
Officials at the Port of Gulfport are ecstatic and call it one of the most positive business moves by the state in the last 20 years.
The plan calls for the state to buy the rail line currently owned by the Kansas City Southern. If the deal actually goes through, the state would fund replacing rail some of which dates from the 1920s with a new track that can carry heavier, more lucrative loads to and from the state-owned port.
The improved rail line would cut shipping times from the port to Jackson from more than a day to just five hours, making it much more competitive with rival ports in Mobile and New Orleans, both of which have direct rail lines to a rail hub in Jackson.
Hattiesburg gets a distinct advantage over other areas and could become a true gateway to coastal trade, lawmakers said.
Chances are that profitability won't come overnight. But, generally, the move is good for business.