July 9, 2009
Neal Wagner -
Members of the Lowndes County Port Authority soon may be seeking part of a large federal grant to aid the agency in constructing a nearly $6 million rail spur near the county''s West Bank Port.
As part of the American Investment and Recovery Act signed earlier this year, the federal government will be distributing about $1.5 billion to transportation entities across the nation through the Transport Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, according to county Port Director John Hardy.
Because the minimum grant amount to be awarded through the TIGER program will be $20 million, the Lowndes County port likely would have to partner with several other state ports when applying for the grant.
"The minimum grant is $20 million, and that''s way more than we could use alone," Hardy said during a Wednesday morning port authority meeting.
Although the board did not vote to apply for the grant, board consensus indicated the authority will begin speaking with other state ports regarding the grant.
Lowndes County Port officials likely will apply for the grant alongside officials from the Yellow Creek Port in Iuka, the Itawamba County Port and the Amory Port, Hardy said.
If awarded, the grant would be used to fund a proposed rail spur extension from an existing Kansas City Southern rail line near the Golden Triangle Industrial Park to Severstal, Kinder-Morgan and several other businesses west of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
"One of the criteria for selection for this grant is to connect the port to another form of transportation," Hardy said. "Which the rail spur would definitely fill.
"It may be a shot in the dark, I don''t know, but I think we are going to go ahead and try to get it," Hardy added, noting the application deadline is Sept. 15. "We have nothing to lose, and we may have something to gain, so why not try?"