Saturday, April 25, 2009

Clarifying Port Development "Planning Mess"

Finally! Someone writes in the P & C on the Port of Charleston's problems and makes sense!

It needs "Commentary," for the cogent to appear in print. [See Port Compromise Needed in Fairness to N. Charleston]. Whether it be the after-effects of pulling port expansion from Daniel Island or an explanation for ongoing squabbles over railroad tracks, thanks to Ron Brinson, readers can learn how the emperor has no clothes. Make that plans.

Some highlights:
  • "[Rep. Jim Merrill] was a leader in the legislative processes that chased the SPA off Daniel Island and to the city of North Charleston. His side won, but that should not mean North Charleston loses."
  • "And [his] taking the lead to provide the railroads a legislative solution to these predictable rail access issues, surely didn't mean to insult North Charlestonians — but he did. Docks and railroads were long ago legislated off Merrill's Daniel Island district. To many North Charleston citizens, his proposed legislation equates to a state instruction that North Charleston accept and abide impacts not acceptable to Merrill and his Daniel island constituents."
  • ". . .the Ports Authority's long-delayed port development plan is a planning mess and political nightmare that simply won't end."
  • "If the railroads would agree with each other, these pesky issues could be resolved with reasonable accommodation to Summey's valid concerns. But trunk line railroads fiercely protect their competitive advantages and their perceived shareholders' values, and thus, they seldom readily agree on anything,"
  • And, most importantly to North Charleston commuters, Mayor Summey railed that "railroads can wear out their welcome. More specifically, he argued, his constituents are sick and tired of unreasonably slow and stopped trains clogging up the city's busy streets. He challenged the railroads to be more sensitive to their impacts in North Charleston."
Brinson's analysis clears up many puzzling aspects of the "planning mess." Why can't the P & C report on it more coherently on a regular basis? Or does it have a planning mess, too?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the competing railroad giants can't get their act together and find mutual self interests served in finding a solution, then the state should step in on the side of local citizens and common sense.

To those who say we don't need government intervention, let's point out the state already has a railroad of its own. It was once called RemTrack (or RamTrack) by its critics. The derisive name was taken from the Rembert Dennis plan in the 1970's to pave the historic banks of the Cooper River's western branch with industrial plants and parking lots. The state even built a short line railroad or spur to serve what is now the backbone of Berkeley County's industrial tax base.

Why not have the South Carolina State Railroad Authority threaten to take over both tracks through eminent domain, combine them into one preferred rail corridor and lease back the use of the new tracks to all would be cargo servers at the port? If the competing interest in the private sector can't use common sense, then maybe the state should threaten them with the obvious alternative.

For once, we should give the people of North Charleston a permanent solution and not one that is based on short cuts, poor planning and deferred solutions. Haven't the rest of us dumprd on our neighbors for way too long? Just how far away is North Charleston's long term success or failure from the rest of use? Not very far at all.