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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Wilmington rail realignment's potential paths narrow as environmental review nears completion

The city of Wilmington’s effort to move a freight rail line across the river is chugging along.

The rail realignment project is coming into a phase of public outreach as the environmental review winds down.

The project’s aim is to prevent traffic disasters by moving most of the freight rail out of city limits.

The Rail Realignment Project would replace existing rail access between Navassa and Wilmington with a new, shorter route. It would keep freight trains from blocking dozens of streets, and that land may be repurposed for a light rail line or other public transportation. The project’s total cost may be upwards of $1 billion dollars.

Director of Rail Realignment Aubrey Parsley said the federal environmental review helped narrow plans down to two basic route options. “We’ll show the public, then we'll go back to the regulators regulatory agencies, this time with the benefit of public input and feedback, and then arrive at our destination of having one preferred route alternative, which will refine the project to within a 200 foot corridor.”

Design work is nearing the 15% mark, he added, and the project is working through navigational clearances with the coast guard and other agencies in order to build a rail bridge across the Cape Fear River.

The rail realignment project is seeking public comment from June 28 to July 26. Details will be available on the city website and in public buildings like city hall and the library during that time.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.