Port Bienville Railroad Project

Environmental Impact Statement

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Notice of Intent on June 2, 2015, to advise the public that FRA and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission will prepare a project-level Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Port Bienville Railroad Project (the Project). The Project is composed of approximately 24 miles of new railroad line to connect the Port Bienville Short Line Railroad with the Norfolk Southern mainline in Nicholson, MS.

The Proposed Action will connect the Port Bienville Short Line Railroad, located at the Port Bienville Industrial Park, Hancock County, with the Norfolk Southern Railroad, located in the vicinity of Nicholson in Pearl River County, to provide the Port with access to dual Class I rail service. Dual Class I rail access is proposed to enable Hancock and Pearl River counties and Stennis Space Center to attract new industries to this region that require this level of rail service, and encourage job creation and investment opportunities to help this area recover from natural disasters that have significantly affected local economies.

In 2013, MDOT completed a Feasibility Report, which included the development of reasonable alternative corridors; identification of the economic benefits and opportunities associated with the Project; and a recommendation regarding the feasibility of the Project. Given the business case for dual Class I rail service, the demands of the existing and emerging business clusters in Hancock and Pearl River counties, the future benefits to Stennis Space Center, the existing industrial land inventory, and the workforce and transportation assets supporting this region, the construction of this new rail line was determined feasible.

The Feasibility Report and additional Project documentation can be found online at: http://sp.mdot.ms.gov/Environmental/Pages/Projects.aspx.

Next Steps

FRA signed the Draft EIS on September 11, 2018, and it was published in the Federal Register on September 21, 2018. Links to the Draft EIS files are below.

The Draft EIS examined the No-Build Alternative and one Build Alternative (Preferred Alternative). The Preferred Alternative is approximately 24-miles long and would begin in the northern section of the Study Area in Nicholson, MS. It would continue southwest along the existing Norfolk Southern rail line (Segment 11), then leave the existing rail south of Texas Flat Road and continue in an easterly direction (along Segment 10b). It would turn to the southeast (along Segment 9) and then travel south (along Segment 8a and Segment 7). The alignment continues in a southerly direction along the southern option “C” and ties into the existing Port Bienville Railroad.

The Draft EIS is available for a 45-day public comment period, which will end on November 5, 2018. During this time, FRA will hold one public hearing on October 23, 2018: 

Where:  Stennis International Airport
               Multipurpose Room No. 202
               7250 Stennis Airport Road
               Kiln, MS 39556

Time:     4 – 7 p.m.


FRA Point of Contact

Environmental Review Process contact
Kevin Wright
Environmental Protection Specialist
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, MS-20
Washington, D.C. 20590

Media Queries contact
Phone: 202-493-6024
Email: FRAPA@dot.gov


Permitting Dashboard

The U.S. Permitting Dashboard is an online tool for Federal agencies, project sponsors, and interested members of the public to track the Federal government’s environmental review and authorization processes for large or complex infrastructure projects. The Dashboard is part of a government-wide effort to improve coordination, transparency, and accountability. A link to this project’s page on the Dashboard is below.

Permitting Dashboard Link