WAYNESBORO — The Rail Authority of East Mississippi (RAEM) has worked diligently to lay the groundwork for re-establishing rail service in Southeast Mississippi. In addition to developing an implementation plan and pursuing grants to assist with funding the project, RAEM has just completed the initial phase of a market study.
It is the first step to determine the feasibility of constructing the proposed railroad, the East Mississippi Intermodal Rail Corridor.
Geoffrey Clark, RAEM’s executive director, said, “We needed to understand the demand for service, the benefits continuous rail service can offer existing businesses and how the project may bring new industries to the area. We now have documented estimates of the potential rail volume and an understanding of the market.”
According to the study, the forest products industry will be the primary user of the new railroad, driven by a growing demand for wood pellets and wood biomass to be used for energy production. Other freight would include construction materials, chemicals and agricultural products.
Gil Carmichael directed the Federal Rail Administration for President George H.W. Bush and is a member of RAEM’s board of directors. According to Carmichael, restoring rail service to Southeast Mississippi is vital to the region’s economy and is important to all of East Mississippi.
Carmichael said, “Our goal is to build the missing link that will enable non-stop rail service from Corinth to the Ports of Pascagoula and Mobile. The corridor will quickly become the economic spine of East Mississippi and a valuable source of new jobs and industry.”
With the initial study completed, RAEM now plans to implement a more comprehensive economic analysis and determine a defined route for the railroad. An environmental assessment will be conducted before acquiring right-of-way and beginning construction.