RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Transportation and its partners today broke ground on a project to improve safety on Hopson Road in Durham, as well as improve train travel along the Charlotte to Raleigh rail corridor.
“This project will make the highway and railway safer for our citizens and, at the same time, help bolster our economy through improved freight and passenger train service,” said Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. “It is the first of a number of similar projects between Raleigh and Charlotte that would not be possible without the support of the Federal Railroad Administration, the North Carolina Railroad Company and our freight partners, Norfolk Southern and CSXT.”
Overall project includes:
• Building a bridge to carry the train tracks over Hopson Road to replace the existing street level crossing. The bridge will be built to accommodate any future widening of Hopson Road;
• Realigning nearby Church Street to intersect with Hopson Road, and closing the Church Street rail crossing;
• Constructing 3.3 miles of parallel track from south of Interstate 40 to north of McCrimmon Parkway in Morrisville. This will improve efficiency for both passenger and freight trains by allowing them to both travel through this area unimpeded; and
• Straightening existing railroad curves. This will allow for increased track speeds, which will help reduce travel times and improve efficiency.
The total estimated construction cost of the project is $27 million. NCDOT awarded a $10.9 million contract to The Fred Smith Co., the lowest bidder, to build the overpass, realign Church Street and perform grading work for the parallel track. Norfolk Southern will construct the second track, and the NCRR purchased land for the project. The overall project is scheduled to be complete by December 2015.
“We are proud to partner with NCDOT in their very proactive Rail Safety Program,” said Bill Barringer, director of Grade Crossing Safety for Norfolk Southern.
“We invested $2.1 million for the land necessary to improve the rail curvature and add a passing siding to allow higher speeds for freight and passenger trains,” said Scott Saylor, president of the NCRR. “This is one of many projects NCRR funds for railroad improvements that lead to a better economy and more jobs for our state’s citizens. Partnering with the NCDOT on projects such as this one at Hopson Road is very important to us.”
This project is part of the Piedmont Improvement Program to modernize railroad track, roads and bridges along the railroad corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte. It is the first of about 30 such projects to begin construction. The projects are being funded with $545 million awarded to North Carolina through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $24 million contributed from NCRR. All projects are scheduled to be complete by the end of 2017.
The Hopson Road crossing was the site of a triple fatality in 1992. This event prompted NCDOT to establish its Sealed Corridor Program in partnership with CSXT and Norfolk Southern. The goal of the program is to “seal” the rail corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte by eliminating or improving rail-highway street level crossings.
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Durham/Morrisville Railroad Improvements and Grade Separation