South Carolina short rail line begins construction on new route

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North Carolina Construction News staff writer

Palmetto Railways, the short line owned and operated by the state of South Carolina, has begun construction of a new rail line to serve the Camp Hall Commerce Park in Ridgeville and the adjacent Volvo auto plant.

The rail line was part of the original negotiations to bring the Volvo plant to South Carolina, an agreement announced in 2015 and after an environmental Finding of No Significant Impact from the Federal Railroad Administration in December 2022 funding was awarded by the state legislature in May. Volvo and CSX have also contributed to the construction costs.

A legislative panel on May 16 authorized the S.C. Commerce Department to draw $48.5 million from a special economic development fund for the long-delayed project, now projected to cost $185 million, or about a third more than a 2021 estimate.

The 22.7-mile track will run north and south through a swath of timberland between the Camp Hall business park near U.S. Interstate 26 to an existing freight transfer site that CSX Corp. operates in Cross. Construction is expected to take about three years to complete.

The rail infrastructure was part of a 2015 incentive package that the state offered Volvo in exchange for picking South Carolina for its first and only U.S. manufacturing plant.

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