The following are highlights from the past week at the N.C. Department of Transportation
. Several of the below stories are also featured in our weekly newscast, NCDOT Now, which can be viewed by clicking here
.Piedmont Improvement Program InspectionThe Piedmont Improvement Program is enhancing the safety and efficiency of train travel across our state. Earlier this week, representatives from communities between Raleigh and Charlotte got a first-hand look at the improvements currently underway that will help freight and passenger rail service.From their seats in Amtrak's American View theater inspection car, passengers riding on North Carolina's Amtrak Piedmont train got a front-seat view of the improvements, including new bridges that will separate tracks from vehicle traffic, parallel or second track, and new passing sidings, which allow freight and passenger trains to pass each other so they can keep on schedule. Projects are scheduled to be complete by 2017.East End Connector GroundbreakingEarlier this week, NCDOT joined the City of Durham and Durham County for an event to officially kick off construction of the East End Connector, a project more than 50 years in the making While traffic in Durham is expected to continue increasing rapidly, there is currently no direct connection between the two major east-west highways in the region. The East End Connector will provide a link between the Durham Freeway and I-85, and will improve traffic flow between other major routes including I-40, the Triangle Expressway and U.S. 1. The highway is expected to be open in 2019.Watch for Me NC Partner CommunitiesThis week, NCDOT announced new partner communities for the Watch For Me NC Campaign, which increases awareness of pedestrian and cycling safety in communities around the state. Asheville, Charlotte, Corolla, Davidson, Granville County, Jacksonville, Marion, Murphy and Surf City will join nine communities and four universities already promoting cycling and walking safety awareness.These communities will receive printed materials and media advertisements to help improve public awareness. Partner communities will also participate in specialized police officer enforcement training. For more information on the Watch for me NC campaign, visit watchformenc.org.Statewide Model Bridge Building Competition WinnersRegional Model Bridge Building Competition winners from middle and high schools around the state competed for the chance to be named statewide champion earlier this month, all while learning about the science of bridge building. Franklin Academy High School of Wake Forest won first place in the high school category, while Polk County Middle School of Mill Springs took home first place in the middle school category.The purpose of the model bridge building competition is to create a greater awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education and its relationship to careers in transportation.For more information on NCDOT Now, contact the NCDOT Communications Office at (919) 707-2660.