By The Associated Press
JACKSON — The National Surface Transportation Board has agreed to hold a public hearing in Mississippi on a proposal to abandon 83 miles of track from Grenada to Canton.
The Mississippi Transportation Commission, the attorney general’s office, members of the state’s congressional delegation and local officials had asked the NSTB for a public hearing.
In an order dated Tuesday, the NSTB said it will announce the date for a hearing soon.
Grenada Railway LLC asked the NSTB on Sept. 20 to allow it to abandon the track and sell it for scrap. The railway also asked the NSTB to conduct the process through an exemption procedure, or fast-track process.
The proposal has drawn opposition from local officials up and down the rail line.
Attorney General Jim Hood has said that absent another railroad purchasing the line, or the formation of a regional railroad authority, rail access would be lost in Grenada, Montgomery and Carroll counties and in parts of Holmes, Yazoo and Madison counties.
He also said the expedited process would have effectively shut out the public and the affected parties from protesting the abandonment.
Grenada Railway said the line lost $100,000 last year and has already lost $100,000 this year.
The entire Grenada Line runs 175 miles from the Tennessee border to Canton, Miss. The company has said nothing about the northern route from Grenada into DeSoto County.
The southern route, the Grenada Railway says in NSTC documents, “has proved to be a financial fiasco.”
The cities along the route affected by the abandonment — in addition to Grenada and Canton — would be Duck Hill, Winona, Vaiden, West, Durant, Goodman, Pickens and Vaughan, according to the railway’s NSTB filing.
The line was purchased in 2009 from CN, formerly known as Canadian National, at the same time as the Natchez-Brookhaven line.
The Natchez railroad’s future has been a source of worry since CN sold it to a newly formed company, Natchez Railway LLC. The new owners have ties to a railroad salvage company, A&K Railroad Materials.