Moving rails could hurt Alabama

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The U.S. Senate recently approved $28.9 billion in hurricane-recovery spending that was attached to an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that also provides funding for war.

In the bill, which now goes to a House conference committee, there's $700 million for the Transportation Department that is disturbing.

The allocation would be used to reroute the CSX rail line that runs along the coast of Mississippi. Instead, the line would turn north through rural Mississippi, then east to Birmingham. In Alabama, the line would turn north in Flomaton.

Approximately $250 million has already been spent post-Katrina to repair the storm damages to CSX rails. It doesn't take a rocket scientist – and the bill contains for money for them, too – to figure out that the rerouting is designed to get the lines off the coast, which casinos want, and foster economic development upstate.

For Mississippi, that might be a good thing. But in Alabama, where we've spent millions on the port of Mobile and where existing industries depend upon rail, the news isn't necessarily good. Earlier this week, The Mobile Press-Register reported that Sen. Jeff Sessions opposes the bill and Sen. Richard Shelby is undecided.

We can only hope that Sen. Shelby is getting something really good for Alabama in exchange for his support if he does indeed support this bill. Because it doesn't appear to be good for Alabama.

– Andalusia Star News