This letter is in response to Mayor Spruill and Alderman Beatty’s recent comments about the railroad line through Starkville. Both have commented that they want to use the “abandoned” rail line for a Rails to Trails project. The rail line is not abandoned. The line is simply out of service due to a bridge that mysteriously burned between Starkville and West Point. The bridge has yet to be repaired. To be abandoned, the railroad has to file for abandonment and it has to be approved by the US government. The mayor knows this. So why do she and Alderman Beatty keep using the term “abandoned” when she knows that it’s not?
It’s sad that our mayor and alderman would champion a campaign to rid our town of a major transportation asset. I know cities that are BEGGING to get a rail line back after losing one. A Railroad is often a major attractant for new industry. Without rail access, Starkville will and has lost out on major industry. Yokohama in West Point wanted to locate in Starkville but didn’t because of the lack of rail service. When a major industry like that comes calling, most cities do all they can to help attract that business. A rail line was built to get Toyota to locate in Blue Springs, Mississippi. I never saw Starkville offer any plan to help get rail service for Yokohama. Starkville has also lost out on a charcoal manufacturing facility that wanted to locate on the west side of town as well as an auto parts manufacturer that wanted to be centrally located to support Toyota and Nissan. That’s big business and many good paying jobs that Starkville and Oktibbeha County lost out on and the city didn’t fight to get.
I remember when Cornerstone Industrial Park was first built. It’s location adjacent to the rail line was publicly touted as being a huge asset. However, at the same time, the city released it’s Parks and Rec plan and map that clearly showed the intent of a rails-to-trails path in place of the rail line. How do you promote attracting industry while at the same time advertise the desire to remove their needed transportation asset? Starkville certainly hasn’t seen any new industry. It’s actually lost several long time industries.
For those that don’t know, this rail line is owned by Kansas City Southern. You may have seen that name in the news lately as it’s about to be bought out by Canadian National. That change of ownership would give Starkville a direct, one line connection between the US, Mexico and Canada. That’s a huge asset to have. It’s sad that this administration wants to let that go.
Dennis Daniels, Starkville