Carolina Conservation wins a contract to buy a railroad line for the Ecusta Path

Posted by Jeff on Nov 19, 2020 at 05:22 am in Conservation | 0 comments | Last change: November 18, 2020

Hendersonville, NC-based land conservation company Conserving Carolina has reached an agreement to purchase the Hendersonville-Brevard railroad line, which marks a huge step forward in plans for the 19-mile Ecusta Trail.

In a pivotal move, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a $ 7 million bridging loan that will enable the sale. Conserving Carolina had been negotiating the purchase with Kansas-based Watco for months, the railroad owner who operates short-haul freight lines in western North Carolina as Blue Ridge Southern Railroad.

“This project has been a long-term vision for this body for many years,” said John Mitchell, director of business and community development for the county. About two years ago the Board of Commissioners approved a greenway master plan. “This corridor is mostly in possession of a simple fee”, which facilitates the transmission. Watco signaled “a few years ago” that it was ready to sell the line. District officials and the Friends of the Ecusta Trail turned to Conserving Carolina as a buyer.

The announcement of the acquisition of the railroad came 15 months after the State Board of Transportation posted a series of good news for the Ecusta Trail. In August 2019, the North Carolina Board of Transportation awarded a $ 6.4 million grant to purchase the railroad corridor. In August of that year, French Broad MPO awarded $ 5 million to help build the first 5¾ miles of the greenway. The Henderson County Tourism Development Authority allocated $ 500,000 from county housing tax in support of the trail, and the Transylvania County Tourism Board of Directors voted in March to allocate $ 100,000 to the project.

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