"It's moving along," he said. "The only sticking point is negotiating the lease (with Norfolk Southern)."
The full P&N railway line runs 23 miles from Gastonia to Charlotte. Economic development advocates want to reopen it for companies that could use it for freight service from Gastonia to Mount Holly, and eventually hope to establish commuter rail service all the way to the Queen City.
CSX Transportation controls the P&N right-of-way between Mount Holly and Mecklenburg County.
The General Assembly last year approved $5 million to restore the P&N between Gastonia and Mount Holly. Gaston County commissioners followed by committing a $500,000 match to the project. That won't pay for the entire cost of renovating the railway spurs-a process that's already been underway, Carpenter said. One of the most costly aspects of readying the line for activity again has been putting in traffic arms and safety measures at street intersections, he said.
"Putting those crossings and gates back in is expensive," Carpenter said.
While only a four-mile stretch will be ready to go by Dec. 1, engineers are already working on a plan to reopen the line all the way to Mount Holly, he said.
The Gastonia City Council will also hold public hearings next month on closing two vehicle crossings over the rail line, at Park Avenue and Ida Street, in an effort to save money, said Gastonia City Manager Jim Palenick.
Constructed in 1911, the P&N carried freight and passengers between Gastonia and Charlotte for several decades. Advocates for reopening it also believe it could host tourist activities, such as dinner trains and tours to see the McAdenville Christmas lights, Belmont Abbey College and other county sites.