North Carolina: pressing on with grade-separation and crossing elimination

2 Jul

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced on July 1st, 2013 that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has begun construction on rail safety improvement projects along the North Carolina Railroad’s Piedmont Corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte.

This series of projects are part of the Piedmont Improvement Program, supported by a USD520 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant, and will enhance safety for rail passengers, motorists and pedestrians, while laying the foundation for a higher-performing freight and passenger rail network.

“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. “Projects like these create jobs, promote economic growth and foster more livable communities.”

A combination of new grade separations, and level crossing closures and enhancements, will enable trains on the Piedmont Corridor to travel faster and more reliably, and help communities benefit from reduced roadway congestion and improved safety at crossings.

“The safest crossing is one that doesn’t exist, and NCDOT is now on its way to eliminating 50 crossings between Charlotte and Raleigh while building strategic underpasses and overpasses,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C Szabo. “North Carolina Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and NCDOT continue to advance the Piedmont Improvement Program, which is proving to the nation that market-based investments in higher-performing rail service also deliver important safety improvements for trains, pedestrians, and vehicles.”

There are more than 7,000 level crossings in North Carolina, with nearly 300 located along the Piedmont Corridor in Rowan and Guilford counties. The Piedmont Improvement Program will eliminate 17% of the level crossings in these two counties, creating separations between rail and vehicular traffic with new overpasses and underpasses.

A project that broke ground recently at Klumac Road near Salisbury will result in a new double-track railway bridge to eliminate the existing level 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 immensely successful Sealed Corridor Program, begun in 1992, which aims to improve or consolidate level crossings along the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. The Piedmont Corridor is part of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor, which runs from Washington, DC to Charlotte, with planning underway for an extension to Atlanta, Ga.

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