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Bill may be small but it’s powerful

Senate Bill 2335 is tiny by legislation terms. At only 160 words, it pales in comparison to many other bills that often reach into the thousands and thousands of words.

But Senate Bill 2335 is deceiving. Despite its small size, it’s an extremely powerful bill, capable of stopping — or starting — a locomotive.

The bill may ultimately be the “Superman” of economic development in Southwest Mississippi, but for now it’s just an insurance policy against the likelihood that the lone rail line leading into Natchez may be closed.

The future of rail access into Natchez came into question just under two years ago when the 66-mile stretch of steel rails between Natchez and connecting rails in Brookhaven was sold. As the new owner jacked up fees, locals feared the owner’s goal is to run the rail out of business and scrap the line.

The new owners have denied that intent. However the short amount of time needed to react if the owners eventually opt to scrap the line led local leaders to get organized.

In an impressive show of regionalism, leaders from Adams County, the City of Natchez, Franklin County, Jefferson County and Concordia Parish all met a couple of months ago to start plans to handle the “what ifs” that could come quickly if owners opt to scrap the line.

The result is the creation of SB 2335, which would authorize Adams County, to create or join a regional railroad authority for the purpose of purchasing the railroad, if it ever came to that.

We’re impressed by the regional effort and the partnership of both the private sector and the public sector.

With any luck, we’ll never need to exercise what SB2335 allows, but it’s nice to know we have the insurance policy if we ever need it.

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