SC Biz News: Low Line moves forward with support & funding

More than 60 years after the construction of Interstate 26 splintered several downtown Charleston neighborhoods, a rail-to-trail project that would reunite those streets inches closer to reality.

An abandoned Norfolk Southern rail line sits far below the concrete columns that hold up the highway. Weeds push up between the tracks, and litter has been scattered on the land around it.

Various conservationists, planners and city leaders have taken notice of the tracks over the years, hoping to replace the rusting rail line with a linear park.

The Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line group has been working for years to raise money to buy the rights to the property from the railroad and transform it into a paved pathway and city park. The 1.7-mile Lowcountry Low Line would run from Courtland Avenue to Woolfe Street.

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Planners and city officials anticipate turning the old train tracks that run below Interstate 26 into a paved trail and linear park, reconnecting neighborhoods in downtown Charleston. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

Similar rail-to-trail projects have been successfully launched around the country, such as the High Line in New York City, the BeltLine in Atlanta and the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville…

A new deal reached with the city, the Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line and the railroad would see the Friends group buy the rail line and the surrounding land for $5.1 million from Norfolk Southern, forgoing the purchase of the additional parcels.

The deal moves the project toward a Dec. 4 closing date, said Winslow Hastie, board president of the Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line.

To read more about the Lowcountry Low Line, click here.