The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced
a tranche of grant awards, including $18 million headed to the Port of Wilmington for a rail enhancement project.
On Thursday, the DOT named awardees that were granted a combined $2.2 billion from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program – designed to assist communities in modernizing rail, port, bridge and other transportation assets.
The N.C. State Ports Authority applied for the grant in April, according to ports spokesperson Christina Hallignse.
“This project will create a dedicated area for NC Ports to load/unload containers on/off rail cars inside the terminal, as well as specialized equipment to efficiently load/unload rail cars,” Hallingse explained in an email.
The ports authority will be reimbursed for 80% of the cost and pay about $4.5 million of the total $22.5 million project expense.
“We plan to have the project operational by the end of 2025,” Hallingse said.
This project will allow the Port of Wilmington to amp up the volume of containers moved by rail from 14,000 containers a year to up to 50,000, according to Hallingse. “Shifting the mode of transportation to rail will reduce congestion and bottlenecks on the National Highway Freight Network, providing significant public benefits,” she said.
Over the next decade, the project will divert nearly 250,000 containers from truck to rail, according to the DOT award memo. “This will speed up the movement of goods to and from the port, and benefit the local and regional populations by creating new jobs,” the memo states.
The project entails a new loading and discharge area for rail-bound containers at the port with four dedicated rail sidings. About 9.7 acres will be paved around the rail siding and the project will use “three specialized and dedicated reach stackers to unload/load rail cars,” according to the memo.
Technology enhancements and a secured area near the U.S. Customs and Border Protection assets will also be incorporated, the award states, as will “improved lighting and future-ready the site for rail mounted gantry cranes,” Hallingse said.
Today, the port utilizes the Queen City Express and recently launched Midwest Express
to ship containers via rail.