July 3, 2013

N.C. DOT begins rail safety improvement projects

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) began 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 $520 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant, and will enhance safety for train travelers, motorists and pedestrians, while laying the foundation for a higher-performing freight and passenger rail network.

A combination of new grade separations, such as road or rail overpasses or underpasses, and highway-rail grade crossing closures and enhancements will enable trains on the Piedmont Corridor to travel faster and more reliably as well as 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 highway-rail grade crossings in North Carolina, with nearly three hundred located along the Piedmont Corridor in Rowan and Guilford counties. The Piedmont Improvement Program will eliminate 17% of the grade crossings in these two counties, creating separations between rail and vehicular traffic with new overpasses and underpasses.

A project that broke ground recently 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.  

The Piedmont Improvement Program includes 12 projects dedicated to separating rail and highway traffic, and builds on NCDOT’s successful 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, D.C. to Charlotte, with planning underway for an extension to Atlanta.

RELATED: "OLI, FRA award $200K in safety education grants."

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