Port Of Wilmington To Receive $3.4M In Rail Upgrades

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Dec 19, 2023
The Port of Wilmington's rail system is slated to receive $3.4 million in state funding for upgrades through a partnership between rail companies and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The North Carolina State Ports Authority is to get up to $2.8 million to build new tracks at the Port of Wilmington and Wilmington Terminal Railroad received close to $600,000 for updates, according to an announcement on Tuesday morning. Officials plan to use the money for track upgrades to the port's Dock Lead. 

N.C. Ports also received about $1 million for rail projects at Morehead City Port. The money will go toward repairing tracks and rail crossings throughout the port, according to NCDOT officials. 

NCDOT’s Rail Division is investing $10.2 million state-wide in a fund-matching program with private rail companies. Each grant will be paid with 50-50 matching funds between the state and the rail companies. The money was distributed among 10 short-line railroads in North Carolina and the state's ports. 

The Port of Wilmington plans to construct a new rail storage track for increased car storage capacity, ports officials told the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. This is Phase 1 of a 2-phase project costing about $6 million. NCDOT will match up to 50% of the project costs, not to exceed $2.78 million, and NC Ports will pay the other half.

Wilmington's port also has plans to update its rail capacity by breaking ground on an intermodal facility in early 2024 that would provide express intermodal rail services. The facility will allow cargo to be transitioned from different modes of transportation — like from a ship to a rail line — to continue to its destination. 

The N.C. State Ports Authority is expanding its rail network and inland reach with the hopes of expanding its intermodal volume, ports officials said in November. The expansion allows the port to act as a transportation facilitator on land as well as on the water, connecting its ports in Morehead City and Wilmington to its inland port in Charlotte. 

The 50-50 matching grant funding through NCDOT will improve 14 railroad bridges and 27 miles of railroad track in the state, according to officials. The improvements are to support increased freight rail traffic and reduce highway traffic congestion by diverting freight to rail. 

“We are pleased to work with our short-line railroad partners to improve the state’s critical freight rail network,” said Jason Orthner, NCDOT rail director. “These projects are important investments to ensure our infrastructure can support growing transportation demands and economic development opportunities.”
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