The Sun Herald
By Anita Lee
Kansas City Southern Railway will increase train speed from 10 miles per hour to 25 mph along segments of its rail line from Gulfport to Hattiesburg.
The speed will remain 10 mph through downtown Wiggins and south of Interstate 10 in Gulfport.
Track upgrades funded for port expansion are allowing KCSR to increase train speeds. After a second phase is completed in 2016, KCSR representative Doniele Carlson said, trains can travel up to 49 miles per hour.
A $20 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant is funding upgrades along 67.5 miles of the line. In addition to higher speeds, the rail line also will be able to handle double-stacked containers from the port.
The port is adding 80 acres to the West Pier and elevating the property by 15 feet, to 25 feet above sea level. When completed, the pier will have a modernized cargo-container operation.
In a related matter, the Gulfport City Council is expected Tuesday to consider a resolution asking for a study of projected air emissions on highways and the KCSR rail line as a result of the port expansion. The council tabled the resolution when it came up May 8.
The state Department of Environmental Quality commissioned an air-emissions study that was released in December, but it covered all of Harrison County. The study concluded air emissions in Harrison County would be no worse as a result of the port expansion.
The Steps Coalition of nonprofit organizations, which is advocating for a safe and healthy port expansion, believes an air-emissions study should focus on neighborhoods around the tracks and highways that port traffic will use.