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Another county elects to join Railroad Authority

MEADVILLE — Franklin County supervisors have voted to join the Southwest Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority, a group working to save the 66-mile railroad from Natchez to Brookhaven if it is abandoned by its owners.

The Natchez Democrat reports Franklin County supervisors voted March 21 to join the group. The railroad runs through Adams, Franklin and Lincoln counties. Lincoln County has not yet joined in the group, but is expected to do so, said Natchez Inc. executive director Chandler Russ.

The authority will have the power to own the railroad and its assets and levy fees associated with the rail.

The rail line is owned by Natchez Railway, LLC, whose president has maintained the company has no intentions of abandoning the railroad. Natchez Railway bought the track from Canadian National in 2009.

Regional business leaders at first praised the sale of the line, hoping the new owners would inject life into the little-used, neglected spur. The celebration turned sour almost immediately when it was discovered the owners of the new corporation also own Salt Lake City, Utah-based A&K Railroad Materials Inc., one of the nation’s leading railroad salvage companies.

The authority also has the power, without purchasing the railroad, to secure federal funds for the railroad’s maintenance that private companies would be much less likely to obtain.

The Legislature this year authorized creation of the railroad authority.

Source: The Associated Press

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