CHARLESTON, SC - Saturday, May 19: At Huger Street, both rails and ties have been stripped from the rail bed. Signs have been posted all along the LowLine notifying the public that soil testing will precede any other grading or construction. Timetable for testing has not been announced.
Meantime, the Friends of the LowLine still await the City of Charleston's response to the Draft Operating Agreement proposed several weeks ago. The Friends organization are unable to move forward on any front, including public engagement, until an operating agreement allows them to proceed.
RAILS AND TIES YANKED!
CHARLESTON - May 9 - The next major step in LowLine progress was underway Thursday, May 10 as contractors for Norfolk-Southern began removing rails and ties that carried rolling stock on the historic rail line. The contract for removal of the tracks and ties was part of the agreement negotiated by the Friends of the Lowcountry LowLine with Norfolk-Southern.
The process is amazingly simple. One Bobcat lifts a section of rails, another slips a steel "sled" under the rail, and then pulls the sled behind as the rail literally pops up off the ties.
A large percentage of the LowLine got that treatment today. Tomorrow begins the actual removal of then loosened ties.
Following the removal process, an environmental assessment of the underlying soil will be conducted to comply with regulations of the Scouth Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
A quantity of rails, switches and lights are to be preserved and stored so that they may be incorporated in the design of the LowLine. Any final decision on this will depend on the design process, which will rely heavily on input from those residing near the LowLine, or having businesses adjacent to it. This process has not yet begun.
The removal process was set to begin in northern sections of the LowLine (around Mt. Pleasant Street) and move south toward the southernmost end of the property, near Woolfe Street in downtown Charleston. There was no ready estimate on how long the removal process will take.
The Friends of the LowLine is in the process of negotiating terms of an operating agreement with the City of Charleston. It is the nonprofit’s aim to make the property financially self-sustaining, with little or no impact on the city budget.
Further announcements about public input and philanthropic activities should be forthcoming following conclusions of operating agreement negotiations.
STATEMENT OF BOARD PRESIDENT WINSLOW HASTIE
The removal of the rail and ties from the LowLine right of way marks an important milestone in the linear park’s development. Obviously, the land acquisition that that we facilitated in December of last year was extremely important as well. We have been working closely with Norfolk-Southern and the city to ensure that the track removal process respects the history and significance of this historic rail corridor.
While all the track and ties will have to be removed for environmental reasons, we are making sure that sections of the track are retained so that they can be integrated into the future design of the park. We have also identified other elements related to the rail, including signage, that will be preserved as well.
The Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline are currently in the process of negotiating an operating agreement with the city so that our respective roles are clearly defined moving forward. Once that agreement is executed, we will work with the city to engage the surrounding neighborhoods and the broader community on a vision and ultimate design for the LowLine. We are very excited about entering into a much more public phase of the park’s development, as we know that there is incredible support for this critical addition to the public realm of the Peninsula.