RALEIGH – North Carolina has received good transportation news as an important agreement reached this week will advance plans to improve the Southeast’s freight and passenger rail network.
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation announced a major deal with CSX Thursday. Part of the deal will enable the N.C. Department of Transportation to acquire a 10-mile portion of an inactive freight line in North Carolina so the line can be converted for use on the Southeast Rail Corridor.
The Southeast Rail Corridor is a network of passenger and freight rail from Washington D.C. to Jacksonville, Fla. The rail runs through North Carolina roughly parallel to Interstate 85 and U.S. 1. The 10-mile section to be acquired runs from Ridgeway in Warren County to the North Carolina-Virginia border.
“This is a key step as we work to improve our rail system so we can move people and goods more efficiently between North Carolina and communities along the East Coast,” said Jason Orthner, director of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Rail Division.
This week’s deal will also enable the construction of a new Virginia-owned Long Bridge across the Potomac River, and acquisition of more than 350 miles of railroad right-of-way.
The deal comes as officials with North Carolina and Virginia work together on a strategy to acquire both in-service and out-of-service rail lines for enhanced freight and passenger services. North Carolina Sen. Tom McInnis is chairman of the North Carolina delegation of the VA-NC Interstate High Speed Rail Compact and a chairman of state legislative transportation committees.
“This agreement takes us a big step forward in our efforts to better connect North Carolina communities,” McInnis said. “And it will offer new connections between our state and our neighbors, providing lasting economic development opportunities for our state.”