The R.J. Corman Railroad Co. is optimistic that papers will be signed soon to make it the owner of Carolina Southern Railroad, a company spokesman said Wednesday afternoon.
If that happens as the company suggests in two filings last week to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, Corman spokesman Noel Rush said that service could resume “sometime during the summer.”
That would be good news to businesses in Horry County and Columbus County, N.C., that have had to resort to alternative, more expensive ways to get raw materials in and finished products out.
Corman filed two briefs with the STB last week that said it anticipates the sale will close on or about Feb. 11, 3 1/2 years after Carolina Southern ceased operations because of structural problems with some of its bridges.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sun News
Doug Wendel, co-chairman of a two-state rail committee formed in 2012 to restore service, said Corman’s recent filing is another step in the process.
The restoration of rail service would allow local officials to recruit industries that need or want rail service for their operations.
Wendel, the past chairman of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., said the group has had clients that were interested in rail service.
A Canadian stainless steel manufacturer that is building its U.S. headquarters at the Loris Industrial Park would like rail service, Wendel said, and will be able to get it if the sale is completed.
Corman has its own repair and maintenance operation, and Rush said the company is anxious to begin the estimated $2 million of work to get the line back in operation.
Mark Lazarus, Horry County Council chairman, said officials are expecting Corman’s help in finding potential employers.
“Their business plan and their business model is economic development,” he said.
Rush said the company will “align ourselves closely with economic development teams to assist in expanding additional freight movements by rail.
Croman’s filings said it will acquire nearly 76 miles of track, the entire Carolina Southern system except for one mile in Whiteville, N.C., that the company will still own.
The company’s optimism is not the first time that a party negotiating to buy the line from owner Ken Pippin has said it believes the sale would close within weeks.
But obstacles have always cropped up.
Should that happen this time, Corman’s filing warned, the company could appeal to the STB to force the sale.
Pippin could not be reached for comment Wednesday.