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Supervisors looking to form railroad authority to save line

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — DeSoto County supervisors are looking into forming a regional railway authority.

The decision comes after the owners of the Grenada rail line asked for federal approval to abandon 83 miles of track from Grenada to Canton.

The Commercial Appeal reports local economic development council president Jim Flanagan and County Administrator Michael Garriga will look into how to form a regional railway authority. Board of supervisors’ attorney Tony Nowak will study state and federal filing rules.

Flanagan said Monday that Grenada Railway’s plans “could very well affect any expansion” by firms such as NewlyWed foods in Horn Lake and adversely impact rail spur expansion sought in the area.

Grenada Railway, LLC, filed with the National Surface Transportation Board Sept. 20 a notice to abandon that 83-mile stretch of track. Grenada Railway said the line lost $100,000 last year and has already lost $100,000 this year.

Flanagan said the firm’s moves follow longtime fears.

“For the last couple years, we’ve been watching this,” said Flanagan, noting the parent company “is in the salvage business.”

Flanagan said the action would affect DeSoto, Tate, Panola, Tallahatchie, Quitman, Yalobusha, Montgomery, Carroll, Holmes, Yazoo and Madison counties.

Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said he hopes the railway with talk with the impacted local communities.

Tagert said the transportation commission has asked the NTSB for an oral hearing on Grenada Railway’s proposal.

The entire Grenada Line runs 175 miles from the Tennessee border into Mississippi to Canton. The company has not said anything about the northern route from Grenada into DeSoto County.

The southern route, the Grenada Railway says in NSTC documents, “has proved to be a financial fiasco.”

Among the cities along the route affected by the abandonment — in addition to Grenada and Canton — would include Duck Hill, Winona, Vaiden, West, Durant, Goodman, Pickens and Vaughan, according to the railway’s NSTB filing.

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