Park rail section not part of line sale

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 4, 2009

Linbrook Business Park will not be affected by a pendingrailroad transaction that transfers three Canadian National tracksto new ownership, meaning the industrial site will remain eligiblefor certification and any future manufacturers that locate therewill have rail access to coastal ports.

CN Spokesman Patrick Waldron said the approximately three-milestretch of track extending from the park to the main north/south CNline running through downtown Brookhaven would remain under CNcontrol, along with other track mileage extending to near theHomochitto River. The other 66 miles of the east/west line thatextend from Brookhaven to Natchez are being sold to newly formedNatchez Railway LLC.

“It’s not part of the sale,” Waldron said of the short spur. “Westill have 593 miles of rail in Mississippi which will remainactive and connected to the Canadian National network.”

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Several state lawmakers and industrial recruiters are worriedCN’s pending sale of 252 miles of track in the state to NatchezRailway LLC and Grenada Railway LLC – affiliates of Salt LakeCity’s A&K Railroad Materials, Inc., a railroad salvage company- could result in the lines being scrapped at the end of a two-yearmaintenance agreement in the sale contract. House representativespassed a set of resolutions Friday urging the SurfaceTransportation Board to withhold approval of the deal unlessguarantees were made that would keep the lines operatingpermanently.

Local officials were particularly concerned about Linbrook,saying the multi-million dollar development could be hindered as anindustrial recruitment tool without rail access.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield said the portion of track to be sold endsat mile marker 86, which is near the Lincoln/Franklin Countyline.

“CN has always planned to maintain the track through the park inan effort to directly access future industries that will locatethere,” he said.

Brumfield said connection to CN’s main north/south line providesLinbrook with all the shipment opportunities it needs.

“It will provide us direct access to the largest north/southrail line in the country, thus connecting us with the port in NewOrleans and other ports on the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts,”he said.

Additionally, the presence of rail lines in Linbrook will allowthe park to be certified as a super site.

Although Linbrook could survive if the east/west line wereclosed, Brumfield said the track is still important to regionalindustrial development.

“We’d love to see the line kept open – our southwest regionneeds to see it open for future projects,” he said. “Just because aproject may be located in Natchez or Franklin County doesn’t makeit any less important to Brookhaven. As the economy improves andmore employers move to the area, hopefully a suitable industry willfind its way along the line and not only create jobs, but make theline more viable for the new owners.”