Updated plans for Wilmington’s rail realignment project

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) — Over the past few months, officials have been able to determine a route that will most efficiently travel from the Navassa Rail Yard to the Port of Wilmington. Now they make sure the route limits traffic and pedestrian impact.

If you’ve ever been stuck on a train in Wilmington, you know that waiting anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes can be frustrating. But the city’s rail realignment project will change that. The route will reduce waiting times and open up the streets and sidewalks.

This map (below) shows the existing railway line in blue, and the proposed line is dotted in orange.

City of Wilmington rail realignment project.
City of Wilmington rail realignment project.(City of Wilmington)

“So as you go through you have to do your homework and really prove yourself on many, many different dimensions, from environmental to historical, property rights to economic to trade, there’s 20, some dimensions you have to check, to prove that this is the best option. So we’re at the point now where we have what we call a preferred local alternative,” said Aubrey Parsley, Wilmington City Economic Director.

Parsley said the alternative is to move the railroad on South Front St. to the west side of the street.

“The elimination of the level crossings there and being able to have these trains run independently of the road system so that one doesn’t have a lot of different things getting in the way of the other,” Parsley said. “There is port activity there, both truck and rail, we have NCDOT who have a project to widen the road there. They also planned a multipurpose path for this project. And then you have a track laying that runs through there as well. So what it creates is this amazing opportunity for all of these agencies and stakeholders to work together.”

State, local and federal leaders on the project are working on the environmental assessment process, which Parsley says could take two or three years.

“The environmental review process looks at all the different possible ways the project could be built and tries to figure out all the trade-offs involved and get everyone on the same page as to what is the best and most preferred option in terms of impact minimization , but still reaping the full benefits of completing the project,” added Parley.

Parsley said the goal is to have about 30% of the preliminary engineering and state environmental assessment process complete by next year.

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