WAYNESBORO, Miss. (WTOK) - Thousands of jobs are on the horizon with the proposal of a new railroad line in East Mississippi.
“2,500 jobs. We’ve seen the study. It’s realistic,” Sean Dunlap, Executive Director of the Wayne County Economic Development said.
The Rail Authority of East Mississippi is proposing a rail line which would link the cities of Meridian with the ports of Mobile and Pascagoula. The 56 mile track would help attract big name industries and possibly create over 2500 jobs.
“That would give us continuous traffic throughout the eastern part of the state of Mississippi. But more importantly to our area, the southeastern part of the state of Mississippi,” Larry Gandy, Executive Director of the Rail Authority of East Mississippi said.
“We’re talking about people that are going to work with the railroads,” Dunlap said. “The ones that are going to be doing the stevedore work. Loading and unloading cargo. It’s going to add to the ports at Mobile with more through traffic.”
The route would follow the old Gulf, Mobile and Ohio railroad that once went from Meridian to Mobile. After years of planning, development leaders say that it’s slowly becoming a reality.
“We’re hungry for jobs. We will do anything to recruit an industry. But if we don’t have the means of transportation, there’s no way we can create those jobs. The business won’t come.”
The project remains a few years away from completion. Hurdles from the National Environmental Policy Act stand in the way from the project moving forward. The Rail Authority is conducting a development of the comprehensive feasibility study and environmental analysis (NEPA) required for construction. Sean Dunlap of the Wayne County Economic Development center is asking the public to remain patient as they work to restore this service in our area.
“This is not just a Lauderdale County project, a Wayne County project, it’s not just a regional project. This is a national importance project. We’re looking at ways of creating jobs in the United States. We want to improve the economy. This railroad is the way to do it,” Dunlap said.
According to the Railroad Authority of East Mississippi website, the project would bring in $57 million in new industrial development, 2,500 jobs and more than $140 million in new annual personal income.