NCDOT: Short Line Railroad Grants Include Rutherford’s Thermal Belt Railway

A cyclists rides through fall leaves that arescattered along the Thermal Belt Rail Trail in Rutherford County.
A cyclist enjoys a fall day on Rutherford County’s Thermal Belt Rail Trail.

The Thermal Belt Railway in Rutherford County is among 13 short line railroads and the North Carolina Ports Authority that soon will be improving their rail infrastructure thanks to approximately $10.9 million in matching grant funds being awarded as part of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT’s) Freight Rail and Rail Crossing Safety Improvement program (FRRCSI), NCDOT announced in a May 12 news release.
FRRCSI supports rail infrastructure health, safety and performance throughout the state, enabling NCDOT to partner with rail companies on improvement projects to effectively move freight. This partnership helps railroads efficiently meet customer needs in cost-effective ways while preparing them for growing service demands and partnerships with new businesses and industries, according to the release. 
The awarded grants are matched with railroad investments to contribute more than $21.7 million in rail infrastructure improvements statewide. Together, these projects will upgrade more than 12 miles of railroad track and 35 bridges in North Carolina.

The Thermal Belt Railway is receiving $102,050 for rail and crossties upgrades and track alignment improvements.

Other funds awarded include:

  • Aberdeen Carolina and Western Railway: $3,563,324 for bridge improvements, siding construction and mainline track upgrades (Cabarrus, Montgomery, Moore, Stanley, Mecklenburg counties)
  • Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad: $419,175 for rail upgrades on the mainline (Hoke County)
  • Alexander Railroad Company: $218,660 for mainline crosstie upgrades and other track improvements (Alexander, Iredell counties)
  • Atlantic and Western Railway: $625,572 for switch upgrades, rail improvements and bridge improvements (Lee County)
  • Caldwell County Railroad: $73,125 for track alignment improvements, and track and crosstie upgrades (Catawba, Burke, Caldwell counties)
  • Carolina Coastal Railway: $1,113,500 for mainline bridge and track improvements (Beaufort, Greene, Johnston, Martin, Nash, Pitt, Wake, Washington, and Wilson counties)
  • Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad: $457,400 for bridge and structure improvements, plus track and crosstie upgrades (Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank counties)
  • Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: $921,950 for bridge improvements, track, rail and crosstie upgrades (Swain, Jackson, Macon, Cherokee counties)
  • North Carolina State Ports Authority: $825,000 for dock rail improvements at the Port of Wilmington (New Hanover County)
  • North Carolina and Virginia Railroad: $974,434 for rail upgrades, bridge improvements and crosstie upgrades (Bertie, Northampton counties)
  • RJ Corman Railroad Company: $219,349 for track and crosstie upgrades, and bridge improvements (Columbus County)
  • Wilmington Terminal Railroad: $575,172 for yard switch upgrades and related track improvements (New Hanover County)
  • Yadkin Valley Railroad: $762,538 for bridge improvements, switch upgrades and mainline track improvements (Surry, Stokes, Forsyth, Wilkes counties) The Freight Rail and Rail Crossing Safety Improvement Program was established in 2013 by the General Assembly.

The Freight Rail and Rail Crossing Safety Improvement Program was established in 2013 by the General Assembly.

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