Public hearing to be held for proposed rail

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Mississippi Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on Tuesday concerning the proposed connection of two railroads in Hancock County and Pearl River County.

The connection would be between the Port Bienville short line railroad in Hancock County to the Norfolk Southern short line in Pearl River County, providing what is being described by MDOT as an economic driver.

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According to MDOT documentation filed at the Pearl River County Board of Supervisor’s office in Poplarville, connecting the two lines will provide a direct connection between the Port Bienville industrial park and Interstate 59.

According to the documentation, the ideal route for the 24 mile line would run through the buffer zone for Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, heading north as it stays just outside the operating area of the rocket engine testing facility and its partner entities before it crosses Texas Flat Road and eventually connects with rail lines in the Nicholson area.

The public hearing is being held to address concerns with wetlands, wildlife, streams or any other issue. The document states that the project will require 4 railroad bridges over roadways, two bridges over streams, and will cross over 8 gas pipelines. Impacts to the environment are expected include 2,482 linear feet of streams, 171.58 acres of wetlands, 96 acres of floodplains and seven endangered species.

To address those concerns, MDOT is working with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, FEMA and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to name a few.

Estimated cost to build the project, as it was priced in 2016, is $118.2 million.

The public hearing will be held at the Stennis International Airport, room 202, located at 7520 Stennis Airport Drive, Kiln, from 4 to 7 p.m. There will be no opportunity for the public to make presentations, but representatives of MDOT will be on hand to address concerns and there will be options to submit written concerns or have them taped. All comments submitted in writing or recording during the hearing will become part of the permanent record.