SC applies for statewide rail plan study funding

SOUTH CAROLINA - The South Carolina Department of Transportation has applied for a federal grant in a partnership with the City of Charleston to study the feasibility of a high speed intercity passenger rail line in South Carolina's Eastern Corridor.

The Eastern Corridor would tie into the existing federally-designated Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor. The proposed Eastern Corridor connects Savannah, Charleston, Florence and a location near Cheraw at the North Carolina state line.

The application has been filed by SCDOT with the Federal Railroad Administration and its High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSPIR) Program. The grant to fund the study totals $500,000 and requires and additional local match of $125,000. If South Carolina is awarded the grant, the City of Charleston has agreed to coordinate acquiring the $125,000 local match.

SCDOT has also applied for a grant to conduct a comprehensive statewide rail plan. The grant that would fund the study totals $500,000 and requires SCDOT to provide a $125,000 match. SCDOT anticipates that each of the studies will take approximately 18 months to complete.

Transportation Secretary H.B. Limehouse Jr. said the grants could help the state develop more rail opportunities.

"We are pursuing these funds to study our rail possibilities in South Carolina. The revenues from state fuel taxes have proven to be insufficient to maintain our existing highway system. We need to look into rail as a way to take the pressure off our highways and reduce traffic congestion. I'd also like to thank Mayor Joe Riley and the City of Charleston for its help in seeking funds for the study," Limehouse said.