Trains travel north or south and have to stop and disassemble train cars before they can change course and travel east or west, Anderson said. This can happen up to three times daily, sometimes blocking Arlington Boulevard, Howell and 14th streets simultaneously. The connector will enable trains to simply turn, moving through the rail yard quickly. Construction should be complete by the end of the calendar year, he said.
The entire rail yard will eventually be relocated north of the city, off N.C. 903. Building the connector is only a temporary fix, but it's expected to alleviate 75 percent of the traffic problem, Anderson said.
City staff has been working to coordinate three different railroads and funding for years to bring this project to fruition. The city is partnering with the N.C. Department of Transportation, CSX Transportation, Carolina Coastal Railway and the Norfolk Southern. Four meetings were held last year to get feedback from city and county officials, as well as the public, according to a news release from N.C. DOT.