The North Carolina Department of Transportation held two public meetings this week in Wilmington, to help explain the CSX Beltline Project. It’s a $41 million plan designed to improve freight rail lines and update signaling for 13 miles of rail lines in Brunswick and New Hanover counties. Most of the impact is within Wilmington city limits.
The goal is to decrease rail traffic, shorten vehicle wait times at track crossings, and allow the freight to move faster through the city.
It would include rail rehabilitation, curve realignments, and upgraded switch operations. Some streets will be closed.
Project Manager Ron Lucas.
“The primary purpose of this project is to increase safety and efficiency for the rail traffic that is utilizing the a rail line into Wilmington from Davis Yard and out toward the Port of Wilmington. What would these improvements change is, first thing we're addressing all of the crossings, making them safer crossings and even eliminating some crossings so that the trains can actually travel a little bit faster in certain areas, not all areas.”
But community leader DeAndré Corniffe says the project as currently outlined will have an unintended negative consequence for his neighborhood.
“I live on Henry Street and on any given day I can see a drug deals going down on Clay Street. If they close that railroad crossing, it’s going to increase drug traffic. Because the police officers will not be able to cross the railroad track on both sides of Clay Street coming from Market or coming from Princess Place Drive.”
He says it will create a haven for more drug deals.
The DOT is taking public comment on the project through March 10. Construction won’t start before 2022. The project will be funded with federal and state dollars. Vince Winkel, WHQR News.