rail

Vince Winkel

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. 

CSX

The extension of Independence Boulevard has been a high priority project since the 1960s.  But finding a way to gather funding—while also keeping it in line with federal guidelines, making sure it fits within the Wilmington community, and working around the CSX rail lines—has been a roadblock to the project.  

Wikipedia Commons: Per Erik Strandberg

Governor Pat McCrory recently unveiled his new transportation plan.  As it stands, southeastern North Carolina is not slated to receive funding for rail improvements.  

With the wood pellet industry and Vertex Rail coming to Wilmington, train traffic will increase substantially over the next few years. Yet the state is currently not providing funding to help ease the strain of such a rise in activity or address safety conflicts with vehicular traffic.

By Josh Bluntschli / Wiki Commons

Freight traffic in Wilmington will likely increase due to the new Vertex Rail and wood pellet industries. And the city’s population is expected to grow by over 50% in the next 25 years.  This creates safety and traffic issues, which the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County are attempting to address.  Instead of slowly winding through the city, officials envision a new route cutting across the Cape Fear River directly to the Port.