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7/22/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

CSXT, Tennessee development arm agree to convert rail to trail


Surface Transportation Board July 22 announced an agreement between Southeast Local Development Corp. (SLDC) and CSX Transportation, under which SLDC will acquire CSXT's 43.47-mile line (previously approved for abandonment) between Etowah and Copperhill, Tenn., and use it as a recreational trail.


Under federal "rail-to-trails" guidelines, rail lines approved for abandonment may be converted into trails, subject to possible reactivation for rail use.


CSXT in 2001 sought STB approval to abandon the line but asked the board to hold the case in abeyance to give the railroad more time to address environmental issues and explore a sale to preserve the line for continued rail service or for use as a recreational trail.


After the board April 24 approved CSXT's request to abandon the line, SLDC filed an offer of financial assistance (OFA) to purchase the line.
CSXT and SLDC then tried to negotiate an agreement, but were unable to reach terms; to accommodate their efforts, STB several times extended the deadline for filing requests to establish terms and conditions.


Finally, SLDC informed STB July 11 that the parties reached an agreement and withdrew its OFA.


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