CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Trains are back in Conway and officials say businesses are benefiting from the action.
After several setbacks over the past year, the RJ Corman Railroad Company said it’s finally moving things in the right direction.
Bill Henderson with RJ Corman said rail cars are being filled with lumber and shipped out in the Conway area. Now that Hurricane Matthew is finally over, the business can get back on the right track.
“We’re excited. Canfor Lumber has embraced rail. For them, it’s what rail should do. It opened up new markets for them. Before the rail restoration, they were kind of constrained by trucking economics,” said Henderson.
With more businesses now choosing rail so close to the beach, Henderson believes they could help take some pressure off of the busy roads.
“Removing trucks from 501, it’s a great thing,” he said. “You’ve got less deterioration on the roads, which means less money that the state has to spend to continue to refurbish them or repair those roads.”
This is the closest RJ Corman has been to the Grand Strand since buying up the rail line back in 2015. Henderson said after a year that featured several major weather events, including a hurricane that brought major flooding to the area, the company isn’t quite where they want to be.
“You almost kind of laugh at it. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, you know?” said Henderson. “We’ve also had a little bit of an economic downturn associated with just the economy, etc., particularly in the manufacturing area and as a result some of the existing business probably hasn’t materialized like we hoped.”
RJ Corman was recently awarded a Tiger grant of $10 million, which will be used to fully update the tracks so trains can move faster.
“It upgrades the line so that we can handle any type of trains that are necessary,” Henderson said. “So particularly for big business, when they want the bigger rail cars … we can also increase our speed to 25 miles an hour which is incredibly important for efficiency.”
According to Henderson, the Tiger grant money should be available to them sometime in the next few months and then they should have all of those rail lines finally updated by the end of this year.
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