SOUTH MISSISSIPPI — According to Gov. Haley Barbour, Mississippi has received a $20-million federal grant that will help fund railroad improvements from the Port of Gulfport to Hattiesburg, a major step for the Mississippi economy.
“I personally thank Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Obama Administration for giving favorable consideration to and recognizing the importance of the Gulf ports, such as the Port of Gulfport, to international commerce. Once the Panama Canal’s expansion is completed and open to shipping, our Gulf ports will fill a vital need if we have sufficient intermodal surface transportation. This grant is a big step in that direction,” Barbour said.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, will partly fund improvements along 67.5 miles of Kansas City Southern Railroad track between the Port of Gulfport and north to Hattiesburg. In Hattiesburg, the KCS line connects with the Norfolk Southern line that continues into the Northeast U.S. and then connects to networks serving the entire eastern U.S. Also in Hattiesburg, the KCS line connects to the Canadian National line that continues into Chicago and Canada.
Funding is through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provided the U.S. Department of Transportation $1.5 billion to fund transportation projects. The Port of Gulfport competed with other state and local governments for funding from the discretionary program to fund needed rail improvements on the KCS line from Gulfport to Hattiesburg.
Currently, the track can only accommodate 10-mile-per-hour single-stack freight traffic. The project will upgrade the existing line within the existing right of way to 49 mph double stack standards.