This series of projects are part of the Piedmont Improvement Program, supported by a $520-million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant and will enhance safety for train travelers, motorists and pedestrians, while laying the foundation for a higher-performing freight and passenger rail network.
"North Carolina's Piedmont Improvement Program is strengthening freight and passenger rail service, while also delivering substantial road improvements to reduce congestion and make highway-rail grade crossings safer," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Projects like these create jobs, promote economic growth and foster more livable communities."
A combination of new grade separations, such as road or rail overpasses or underpasses, and highway-rail grade crossing closures and enhancements, will enable trains on the Piedmont Corridor to travel faster and more reliably and help communities benefit from reduced roadway congestion and improved safety at crossings.
"The safest crossing is one that doesn't exist and NCDOT is now on its way to eliminating 50 crossings between Charlotte and Raleigh while building strategic underpasses and overpasses," said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo. "North Carolina Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and NCDOT continue to advance the Piedmont Improvement Program, which is proving to the nation that market-based investments in higher-performing rail service also deliver important safety improvements for trains, pedestrians and vehicles."
There are more than 7,000 highway-rail grade crossings in North Carolina, with nearly three hundred located along the Piedmont Corridor in Rowan and Guilford counties. The Piedmont Improvement Program will eliminate 17 percent of the grade crossings in these two counties, creating separations between rail and vehicular traffic with new overpasses and underpasses.
A project that broke ground recently at Klumac Road near Salisbury will result in a new double-track railroad bridge to eliminate the existing at-grade crossing. And later this month, NCDOT will begin construction of a new roadway bridge that will eliminate four crossings south of Salisbury at Peeler Road.
The Piedmont Improvement Program includes 12 projects dedicated to separating rail and highway traffic and builds on NCDOT's Sealed Corridor Program, which began in 1992 and aims to improve or consolidate highway-rail grade crossings along the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. The Piedmont Corridor is part of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor, which runs from Washington, D.C. to Charlotte, with planning underway for an extension to Atlanta, Ga.