Quick action required

By Staff
July 15, 2004
There is no guarantee that it will be approved, but the fact that Wayne County economic development officials have obtained permission to file a $2.2 million grant application with the federal Economic Development Administration to improve a 55-mile stretch of railroad track is good news.
The direct application route is unusual, bypassing the local planning and development district. But, due to the dire condition of some of this track between Meridian and Waynesboro it is the best method of securing funding for the work. The federal grant would complement a $250,000 commitment already in place by the railroad's owners, Meridian Southern Railway LLC.
The repair and upgrading of this track is key to retaining more than 2,000 jobs held by Clarke and Wayne county residents at businesses served through the Wayne County Industrial Park. The railroad links Waynesboro and Meridian, where it then connects with Kansas City Southern Railroad and other carriers.
Some of the track is believed to be nearly a century old and few repairs have been made over the past three decades. The biggest plant that could suffer from the condition of the railroad is Waynesboro's Marshall-Durbin grain storage and blending plant, a rail-dependent chicken hatchery business.
Railroads are a major element in Mississippi's transportation network. Repairs to this line are essential and we encourage the EDA to act quickly to approve the application.

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