News Releases

12/29/2016: NCDOT Rail Division Reflects on Successful Year

NCDOT Rail Division Reflects on Successful Year

Posted 12/29/2016 10:25:01 AM

RALEIGH – From strengthening freight movement and supporting economic growth throughout the state to taking thousands of football fans to Carolina Panthers games on the Piedmont trains, it has been a busy year for the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Rail Division. “We’ve made great strides toward meeting several of Governor Pat McCrory’s goals for transportation,” Rail Division Director Paul Worley said. “Our progress is essential to facilitating the safe, efficient and cost-effective movement of people and goods on the state’s rail lines.” Major Container Shipping Hub Locating in Edgecombe County In July, Governor McCrory announced that CSX will open an intermodal terminal in Edgecombe County. Known as the Carolina Connector, this critical infrastructure project will bring jobs and economic opportunity to eastern North Carolina and position the state as a leader in enhanced freight movement. The Carolina Connector will transfer containerized cargo between trains and trucks, processing more than 260,000 containers per year initially. Building the facility is expected to create 250 to 300 short-term jobs in engineering, technical services and construction. Conservative estimates indicate the hub is expected to create 1,500 jobs throughout North Carolina as a result of the terminal’s operations. The project received one of the highest scores under Governor McCrory’s Strategic Transportation Investments formula, qualifying it for $100 million in state money for track improvements as well as connecting infrastructure. The hub is expected to open in 2020. Queen City Express Connecting Port of Wilmington and Charlotte Governor McCrory also announced in July the debut of the new Queen City Express, an intermodal rail service between the Port of Wilmington and CSX’s intermodal terminal in Charlotte. CSX will also eventually provide direct access from the Port of Wilmington to the Carolina Connector intermodal terminal in Edgecombe County. The Queen City Express will lower transportation costs for businesses, while taking trucks off the road. Transporting goods by rail reduces congestion and wear and tear on the state’s highways, and improves safety and air quality. One intermodal train can eliminate as many as 280 trucks from the highway. Piedmont Improvement Program Construction Continues All Piedmont Improvement Program (PIP) track and bridge construction projects are now underway, with projects completed in Alamance, Cabarrus, Durham, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake counties. To complete the work, the Transportation Department partnered with the North Carolina Railroad Company (the owner of the Raleigh to Charlotte railroad corridor), along with Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation, which are performing the track construction.  "These improvements will ensure more opportunities for businesses and our freight partners," said Worley. "Safety and efficiency on the tracks allow freight railroads to get more goods to communities in our state to bring about job growth and economic development." These projects are largely funded through federal stimulus money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Federal Railroad Administration awarded the state a $546.5 million grant from that program in 2010. A cooperative agreement with the agency specifies that $520 million of the money goes directly to PIP. The rest of the money is helping to improve reliability of existing freight and passenger service from Raleigh to Virginia. North Carolina has nearly 3,300 miles of track used by passenger and freight trains alike. The PIP also benefits Class One railroads, such as Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation. The Piedmont Improvement Program projects include: Thirteen new bridges that will separate traffic from trains and improve safety for motorists; More than 30 miles of new second track along the corridor, making the route between Greensboro and Charlotte fully double track; More than five miles of second track between Raleigh and Greensboro for trains to pass each other; 12 miles of new highway construction; and Selected track construction as part of the Raleigh Union Station. These projects enable closure of 23 public railroad crossings and 22 private crossings, which will eliminate the potential for train and vehicle collisions. All projects are scheduled to be completed by fall of 2017.  More information about the PIP can be found at ncdot.gov/projects/pip/. Carolina Panthers Playoff Run and Piedmont Trains to the Games More than 4,900 football fans hopped on board the “Panthers Trains” during the Carolina Panthers’ 2015-16 season that culminated in an NFC championship. Passengers from Raleigh to Charlotte enjoyed a unique opportunity to travel to home games on board Piedmont trains 73 and 76. The trains departed the Raleigh Amtrak station on gameday mornings to travel to Charlotte, and returned to Raleigh after the games in the evenings. Back by popular demand, the N.C. Department of Transportation and NC By Train are taking fans to and from select games during the 2016-17 season. Tickets can be purchased online at NCbyTrain.org. Enhanced Wi-Fi Service Added to Raleigh-Charlotte Piedmont Train In October, the Rail Division began offering enhanced premium Wi-Fi service onboard the Piedmont trains, which operate between Raleigh and Charlotte. This gives passengers three Wi-Fi options – Bronze, Silver and Gold plans. The 30-minute Bronze plan is included in the purchase of a ticket, with Silver and Gold plans as added options. The tiered Wi-Fi services provide passengers with higher speeds and additional media streaming options, and can be purchased on an hourly basis for occasional riders, as well a monthly fee for regular riders of the Piedmont. Division Director Awarded Order of the Long Leaf Pine On Dec. 20, Rail Division Director Paul Worley was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is one of the highest civilian honors in North Carolina. It is awarded to residents who stand out in their communities and have devoted their lives to serving others. Worley is the longest-serving employee in the division and supervises its day-to-day operations. He was instrumental in recruiting the Carolina Connector intermodal terminal to Edgecombe County and bringing rail service to the Port of Wilmington and Charlotte. Rail Division 2017 Outlook The Rail Division is poised for an even more successful year in 2017. Major milestones are expected to include the complete planning and preliminary engineering on the Carolina Connector, the completion of the Piedmont Improvement Program and a planned addition of a daily passenger round trip between Raleigh and Charlotte, after the Raleigh Union Station is placed in service. ***NCDOT***
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12/12/2016: NCDOT Celebrates Groundbreaking of Railroad Improvement Project

NCDOT Celebrates Groundbreaking of Railroad Improvement Project

Posted 12/12/2016 12:49:31 AM

COFIELD, N.C. – The N.C. Department of Transportation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, celebrating a significant investment in railway and railroad crossing improvements. “This project is a great example of what North Carolina is doing to increase freight capacity, improve efficiency, and enhance safety on railroads in the state,” Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said. “It is also a major step toward fulfilling Governor Pat McCrory’s goal of leveraging our infrastructure to create economic development opportunities.” The North Carolina & Virginia Railroad, or NCVA, serves multiple customers and is located in Northampton, Bertie, and Hertford counties, as well as Southampton County, Virginia. The railroad interchanges with CSX Transportation, Inc. at Boykins, Virginia, and runs 52 miles to its largest customer, the Nucor Steel plate mill at Cofield, North Carolina. The railroad is operating at 10 mph over much of its line and is only able to load cars to 270,000 pounds gross weight. This project will allow NCVA to ship rail cars loaded to 286,000 pounds gross weight. State officials noted that increasing freight rail capacity will help reduce the amount of goods that need to be shipped by truck on U.S. 158 and other area roadways. The ceremony, held at Nucor Steel in Hertford County, highlighted how the improvements support industries in the region. “More than 60 percent of the Nucor plant’s annual production ships by rail, which means the upgrading of this line is critical to their operations and their continued ability to compete in today’s global market and support the economy of this area,” continued Tennyson. “Thanks to this project, NCVA will be able to ship heavier loaded rail cars at faster speeds, which is key to serving industries based here and opening the door to new economic opportunities for this region.” Tennyson was joined at the groundbreaking by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, along with officials from NCVA, Genesee & Wyoming and Nucor Corporation. The $11.6 million project is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2019. The N.C. Department of Transportation secured half of the funding through a federal grant from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program. The balance of the cost is covered by an investment of $3 million from NCVA and $2.8 million of state funds. ***NCDOT***
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11/4/2016: Rail Improvement Program Receives $10 Million Funding Boost

Rail Improvement Program Receives $10 Million Funding Boost

Posted 11/4/2016 12:56:48 PM

RALEIGH – The Rail Division of the N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded an additional $10 million for the Freight Rail and Rail Crossing Safety Improvement program for fiscal year 2017. State officials accelerated the project selection process because several of the ranked projects involve railroads damaged by flooding from Hurricane Matthew. “These investments will enhance safety and improve rail infrastructure connections to economic development opportunities,” Rail Director Paul Worley said. “Both of these priorities satisfy goals outlined in Governor McCrory’s 25-Year Vision for Transportation in North Carolina.” The Freight Rail and Rail Crossing Safety Improvement program was established by legislation signed into law by Governor McCrory in 2013. The newly-approved funding brings the total program amount to $13.75 million for the year. Four shortline improvement projects were selected for funding, with half of the cost coming from state funds and the other half from private investment: $1.7 million to upgrade bridges in Wake, Nash, Wilson and Beaufort counties and to replace more than 10,000 crossties over 31 miles of track in Wake, Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties. Other elements of this project include rail roadbed and crosstie replacement to accommodate heavier railcars in key areas; $7.3 million to return a section of railroad to service in Columbus County between Chadbourn and Whiteville, as well as other track upgrades from Chadbourn to Tabor City and into South Carolina to connect the line to the national rail system; $725,000 to replace five culverts and harden the railroad over 29 miles in Currituck, Camden and Pasquotank counties; and $393,594 to build a new truck/train transload facility in Hoke County, and to replace crossties and harden the railroad for eight miles in Cumberland and Hoke counties. Officials also approved $1 million for a safety improvement project in Salisbury. The project will accelerate the elimination of a highway/rail at-grade crossing at Henderson Grove Church Road by developing the right-of-way plans for a more efficient access roadway to Julian Road. ***NCDOT***
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8/25/2016: N.C. Railways to Benefit from Grant for Safety Technology

N.C. Railways to Benefit from Grant for Safety Technology

Posted 8/25/2016 2:09:21 PM

Raleigh – The state will soon be able to purchase new equipment needed to meet a nationwide mandate on rail safety standards, thanks to a federal grant awarded to the N.C. Department of Transportation last week. “The safe movement of passengers and freight on our rail system is our top priority,” said Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson. “These funds will help us ensure that we have the technology to prevent crashes and save lives.” North Carolina is one of only six states to receive funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration to assist with the implementation of Positive Train Control systems. Positive Train Control uses global positioning systems and other technology to monitor and control train movements in order to prevent collisions, derailments, incursions into work zones, and trains going onto the wrong tracks. Last year, Congress extended the deadline to comply with Positive Train Control requirements until December 2018. “North Carolina has been on the leading edge of efforts to achieve compliance with federal mandates,” said state Rail Director Paul Worley. “As new equipment comes online, this funding will help us enhance our state’s rail network and meet the goals outlined in Governor McCrory’s 25-Year Vision for transportation in North Carolina for improving passenger rail.” The state is making additional investments in rail safety, such as a series of rail and highway construction projects known as the Piedmont Improvement Program. This initiative includes constructing 12 bridges to separate traffic from trains, eliminating more than two dozen railroad crossings and adding 31 miles of passing track. The state will receive $771,070 to equip five converted Cab Control Units with Interoperable Electronic Train Management Systems. The grant will also pay for system tests on the Piedmont corridor or within any adjacent rail territory of the state’s rail partners, Norfolk Southern Corporation and Amtrak. Thirty jurisdictions from across the nation applied for funding, but only 11 projects received a grant. *** NCDOT ***  
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7/12/2016: Transportation Officials Hold Ribbon Cutting for Durham Rail Project

Transportation Officials Hold Ribbon Cutting for Durham Rail Project

Posted 7/12/2016 8:22:36 AM

RALEIGH – State transportation officials gathered in Durham July 12 to celebrate the completion of a railroad construction project designed to enhance rail safety and efficiency. “To help fulfill Governor McCrory’s 25-Year Vision, our Rail Division is working to enhance rail safety and connectivity across the state,” said N.C. Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson. “These projects will modernize railroad track, roads and bridges along the corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte.” The project is funded through a grant from the Federal Railroad Administration and was completed in partnership with the North Carolina Railroad Company and Norfolk Southern Railway. Construction on the Hopson Road grade separation and passing track project began in 2013 and was the first Piedmont Improvement Program project to break ground. It was designed to improve road safety and speed up train travel along the Charlotte-Raleigh corridor by eliminating railroad crossings at Hopson Road and Church Street. A bridge wide enough to accommodate any future widening of Hopson Road was also built to carry train tracks over the road, replacing the existing street level crossing. The project also constructed a new 3.3-mile passing track between McCrimmon Parkway in Morrisville and I-40 in Durham.  The improvements will help provide schedule reliability for passenger service as the addition of a second track will allow passenger trains to pass slower freight trains. The new bridge over Hopson Road will reduce the risk of automobile/train collisions, improve safety for automobile and rail passengers and reduce automobile and train traffic congestion. “This project is a result of long-term vision and collaboration among all the partners involved,” said Scott Saylor, President of the North Carolina Railroad Company. “The Hopson Road grade separation and new passing track will have an immediate and significant impact on both rail and highway safety, as well as increased efficiencies for our freight and passenger rail providers.” Delivery of the $27 million project is a partnership effort. NCDOT constructed the railroad bridge, road realignment and grading work for the parallel track. Norfolk Southern built the additional track line, and the North Carolina Railroad Company purchased the land for railroad improvements. ***NCDOT*** U-4716ABC  
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Durham/Morrisville Railroad Improvements and Grade Separation
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