A groundbreaking ceremony was held Dec. 12 to celebrate improvements along a 52-mile rail corridor that will allow for the transport of 286,000-pound cars.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) hosted the groundbreaking for the North Carolina & Virginia Railroad (NCVA) project. The NCVA is a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming, Inc., and runs between Boykins, Va., where it interchanges with CSX to east of Tunis, N.C. It's largest customer is Nucor Steel plate mill at Cofield, N.C.
The railroad is operating at 10 mph over much of its line and is only able to load cars to 270,000 pounds gross weight. This project will allow NCVA to ship rail cars loaded to 286,000 pounds gross weight. State officials noted that increasing freight rail capacity will help reduce the amount of goods that need to be shipped by truck on U.S. 158 and other area roadways. Approximately 17.5 miles of new rail will be installed, crossties and eight main line turnouts will be replaced, four grade crossings will be rehabilitated and approximately 30 miles of roadbed will be surfaced.
"This project is a great example of what North Carolina is doing to increase freight capacity, improve efficiency, and enhance safety on railroads in the state," Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said. "It is also a major step toward fulfilling Governor Pat McCrory's goal of leveraging our infrastructure to create economic development opportunities."
The ceremony, held at Nucor Steel in Hertford County, highlighted how the improvements support industries in the region.
"More than 60 percent of the Nucor plant's annual production ships by rail, which means the upgrading of this line is critical to their operations and their continued ability to compete in today's global market and support the economy of this area," continued Tennyson. "Thanks to this project, NCVA will be able to ship heavier loaded rail cars at faster speeds, which is key to serving industries based here and opening the door to new economic opportunities for this region."
The $11.6 million project is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2019. NCDOT secured half of the funding, $5.8 million, through a 2014 federal grant from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program. The balance of the cost is covered by an investment of $3 million from NCVA and $2.8 million of state funds.