North Carolina will receive $461 million for construction work on railroad bridges and related structures as a result of an agreement that the state’s Department of Transportation signed with the U.S. DOT on March 22, according to a statement that U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood issued.
The rail funding, part of the money allocated to the entire state through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was released specifically for the Act’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program. Other partners in the agreement are Norfolk Southern Railway, North Carolina Railroad, and Amtrak.
Specific projects can begin quickly, according to LaHood’s statement. “With this agreement in place, North Carolinians will soon be working on 24 rail projects in 11 counties, including the construction of double tracks between Charlotte and Greensboro and 12 new bridges that will eliminate 30 highway-rail crossings. This is the sixth agreement between the states and a host freight railroad for a major high-speed rail corridor funded under the Recovery Act, and it ensures that these grants will improve passenger rail service in North Carolina, while preserving the world class freight rail system we have today.”
The state-owned North Carolina Railroad currently leases track to Norfolk Southern Railway and Amtrak operates the passenger rail services on the state’s behalf, as noted in the US DOT statement. NC DOT will work with Norfolk Southern to design and construct the rail line improvements and improve travel times, while covering the cost of maintenance incurred during construction.
The U.S. DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration, which allocates funds across the nation for the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, is making $545 million in Recovery Act-funded investments in North Carolina, including $59 million to purchase and refurbish equipment that provides for a third daily round trip between Charlotte and Raleigh and station upgrades in Cary, Burlington, and High Point. Previously released funding will also pay for upgrades to tracks, bridges and safety improvements at highway-rail grade crossings, station enhancements, and construction of a $23 million maintenance facility in Charlotte.
Under the Recovery Act, federal agencies allocate money to states or other entities but monitor its use.