Legislators work to stop abandonment of Grenada Railway

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Members of the state legislature's House and Senate Transportation Committees held a special meeting Tuesday to talk about the possible abandonment of a section of railroad from Canton to Grenada.

The line in question runs for 81.3 miles north of Canton. It is the rail line that once supported the passenger train the Panama Limited, running at 100 miles per hour, in it's trip from Chicago to New Orleans in a record 18 hours.

First Illinois Central sold it, then Canadian National sold it and it is on the verge of being ripped up and lost forever.

The house and senate transportation members want to keep that from happening but the hour is late. They have until the 27the of this month to get the federal surface transportation board to stop the abandonment process and hold a hearing.

"We are going to make every effort that we possibly can" said Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall. "To make sure that that railway is not ripped up and shipped to South America or somewhere."

Grenada Railway, a company whose vice president lives in Salt Lake City, is represented locally by lawyer Scott Leavenway who says the line lost $100,000 last year and has already lost that amount this year.

"We have a hundred, a hundred and fifty bridges and culverts along that line" said Leavenway. "And to repair them, those costs are astronomical, to make that rail operational again."

Attorney Walter Brown of Natchez has been hired by the Department of Transportation to save the line.

"Once the rail is gone, it's impossible to put it back" said Brown. "The cost now a days, to rebuild the line, the right of way, the cost of the steel, and so forth, it's really impossible."

The final decision on abandonment will be made by the Surface Transportation Board in Washington.

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