Railroad money passes Senate

Published 8:55 pm Monday, May 8, 2006

A $700 million railroad relocation proposal that some opponents have labeled as wasteful was included in a $109 billion emergency spending bill passed by the U.S. Senate Thursday.
Mississippi Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott say the relocation of CSX's New Orleans to Mobile line farther inland is necessary to avoid hurricane damage.
But opponents of the bill - which includes money for the Iraq war and for other hurricane recovery efforts - have said the measure contains too many extra projects - and they have often singled out the railroad money.
It's unclear whether moving the railroad line away from the Mobile area and the gulf coast would affect Brewton and Escambia County.
Local Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. Manager Gary Moore said he &#8220threw up a yellow flag” with his company supervisors when he heard about the plan.
At least three other Escambia County companies use the railroad line, Escambia County Industrial Development Authority Director Marshall Rogers said.
Rogers and Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority Director Wiley Blankenship have both said they use the railroad as a recruiting tool for new industry.
Alabama senators were split in their voting on the bill, with Jeff Sessions voting against it and Richard Shelby voting for it.
CSX officials, who could not be reached for comment last week, have not specified their plans in public, but the Mobile Press-Register has reported that the line would be diverted north from New Orleans to Meridian, Miss., and then on to Montgomery.
President Bush has threatened a veto of the bill, which includes $14 billion more than the White House wanted.

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