Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo participated in the groundbreaking for a new $24 million railroad bridge at Hopson Road in Durham that will make train and vehicular travel safer and faster while boosting the local economy.
“Safety is our highest priority and investing in a new bridge at Hopson Road means we can improve safety and allow trains to travel faster which will be a great economic benefit for the region,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, investing in our nation’s infrastructure is critical for our country’s future economic growth.”
The Hopson Road Project is the first of 12 Piedmont Improvement Program projects dedicated to separating rail and highway traffic. The project will ultimately eliminate 50 crossings between Charlotte and Raleigh. The new bridge at Hopson Road will eliminate two highway-rail grade crossings, straighten a curve and add a rail siding to allow more flexibility for passenger and freight trains to pass each other.
All 12 Piedmont Improvement Program projects were made possible through a $520 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant that will fund work at all 12 grade separations. These projects will be a catalyst for job creation, increase safety, create faster travel times, improve rail service reliability and on-time performance and support the addition of the third and fourth daily passenger trains between Raleigh and Charlotte.
The new, two-track rail bridge over Hopson Road will eliminate long delays for vehicular traffic as trains pass, and straighten the rail line route to allow for an increase in speed from 55 mph to 79 mph, and up to 90 mph in the future. The new three-mile long passing siding will create more efficient train movements in and out of the Raleigh area.
“Last year was the safest in rail industry history and it comes at a time when we are building a world-class rail network as a foundation for America’s economic success, but we must do better,” said Szabo. “Working together with passenger and freight railroads, state and local agencies, law enforcement and the community, we can fix our existing rail infrastructure, save lives and strengthen the local economy all at the same time.”
FRA and its 32 state partners continue to make significant progress on High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) projects across the country. With $12 billion in federal funding, the agency is moving forward with 152 projects nationwide, laying the foundation for a 21st century passenger rail network. Fifty-two HSIPR projects worth $3.6 billion in funding are currently completed, under construction or will be soon in 19 states and the District of Columbia.