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      Lawmakers told rail access key to port competition

      Talk centers on both boats and trains as South Carolina lawmakers discuss a new $525 million port terminal in a coastal town.

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina lawmakers have been advised that improving rail access is key to helping the state's ports regain their competitive edge.

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      However, the Review and Oversight Commission on the South Carolina State Ports Authority has to come up with an idea of how to accomodate rail.

      Lawmakers heard from railroad and industry leaders on Thursday on how rail can serve a new $525 million steamship terminal in North Charleston.

      A plan developed by Mayor Keith Summey with CSX Transportation proposes a rail terminal at a site that would have competing Norfolk Southern using CSX tracks.

      Norfolk Southern likes another site where both lines would have tracks. But that would mean trains moving through North Charleston's $1 billion Noisette redevelopment project.

      (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)