The U.S. Transportation Department’s Federal Railroad Administration on Monday announced the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has begun construction on rail safety improvement projects along the state’s Railroad Piedmont Corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte.
This series of projects are part of the Piedmont Improvement Program, supported by a $520 million 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.
“North Carolina’s Piedmont Improvement Program is strengthening freight and passenger rail service, while also delivering substantial road improvements to reduce congestion and make highway-rail grade crossings safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in statement.
A combination of new grade separations, such as road or rail overpasses or underpasses, and highway-rail grade crossing closures and enhancements, will allow trains on the Piedmont Corridor to travel faster and more reliably, and help communities benefit from reduced roadway congestion and improved safety at crossings, DOT explained.
There are more than 7,000 highway-rail grade crossings in North Carolina, with nearly 300 located along the Piedmont Corridor in Rowan and Guilford counties. The Piedmont Improvement Program will eliminate 17 percent of the grade crossings in these two counties.
A project that broke ground recently at Klumac Road near Salisbury will result in a new double-track railroad bridge to eliminate the existing at-grade crossing. And in July, NCDOT will begin construction of a new roadway bridge that will eliminate four crossings south of Salisbury at Peeler Road.
The Piedmont Improvement Program includes 12 projects dedicated to separating rail and highway traffic, and builds on NCDOT’s Sealed Corridor Program, begun in 1992, which aims to improve or consolidate highway-rail grade crossings along the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. The Piedmont Corridor is part of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor, which runs from Washington to Charlotte, with planning underway for an extension to Atlanta.
Through its High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program, FRA has partnered with 32 states to invest in more than 150 high-speed and higher-performing intercity passenger rail projects. Fifty-two projects worth $3.6 billion in funding are currently completed, under construction, or will soon start construction in 19 states and the District of Columbia, the agency said.