Legislature Clearing Path for Sale of Cincinnati Line

The Ohio General Assembly is poised to adopt legislation that could clear the way for the sale of the Cincinnati Southern Railway to Norfolk Southern.

The CSR is owned by the City of Cincinnati and leased to NS. It runs from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ohio lawmakers are working out differences in clauses of the state’s transportation bill that was earlier approved by the House and Senate.

Legislation is needed to allow the city to put the question of selling the CSR before voters for their approval.

A legislative conference committee recently approved a compromise that would enable funds from the sale of the rail line to be used by the city for capital projects.

At present, Cincinnati uses lease payments it receives from NS for capital projects. Without a legislative change, the proceeds of the sale of the line could legally only be used to retire public debt.

The language adopted by the conference committee allows NS to buy the rail line and places limits on principal in a trust to be managed by the CSR Board of Trustees.

The legislation would allow sale of the line to be submitted to voters in 2023 or 2024.

The transportation bill was expected to be approved by both chambers on Wednesday.

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