By DEUCE NIVEN
Working on the railroad has begun in Columbus and Horry counties, nearly two weeks ahead of the transfer of ownership of the long-idled Carolina Southern Railroad to Kentucky-based R.J. Corman Railroad Group.
Track repairs needed to get the rail cars rolling again won’t begin until after the deals is complete on Aug. 1, R.J. Corman Assistant Vice President of Sales & Marketing Bill Henderson said, but crews from Kentucky started clearing tree limbs and other vegetation that have encroached on the tracks this week.
A monster bush-hog attached to a Caterpillar excavator with rail wheels rolled out of Chadbourn Sunday, Corman operator Bill Clemmons said. By Tuesday afternoon it had been joined by a second, identical machine, both rolling across the state line near Fair Bluff and into South Carolina, noisily clearing vegetation from the railroad right-of-way.
“We’re making six or eight miles a day,” Clemmons said. “It’s going pretty good.”
It’s just a start, Henderson said, with work to continue from Chadbourn on another stretch of track to Tabor City, then to Loris, Conway and beyond.
After the $13.9 million sale is complete, the real work of restoring the track will begin. That’s estimated to cost $4 million, at least. Henderson said the company’s goal is to get the track restored to minimal service, with rail speeds limited to ten miles per hour, before the end of the year.
Look for more on this story in today’s Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.