Wilmington studies what it can do about 2-mile long trains

Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Source: Winston-Salem Journal

Officials in a North Carolina coastal city are discussing what to do if its port begins loading and unloading trains nearly 2 miles long.

The Port of Wilmington and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are discussing how to improve rail service in Wilmington, where there are more than 30 at-grade railroad crossings — many close together.

City officials worry 10,000-foot trains that may start coming to the port could snarl traffic.

One idea is to move train tracks to the west side of the Cape Fear river and along U.S. 421 out of town.

“There has been impressive growth at the port, and that is important to the city. But for them to be talking about 10,000-foot trains, the reality is, it is probably going to happen. That is why we would like to move the rail lines across the river,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo told the StarNews of Wilmington.

Port spokeswoman Laura Blair said 10,000-foot trains aren’t likely, but it is always good to plan ahead.

She said CSX, who operates the tracks in Wilmington, will decide whether the 23 city block long trains start coming to the Wilmington port.

“We are just looking at what growth means inside and outside our gates,” Blair said.

Planning will be key, said Laura Padgett, coordinator of the Wilmington Rail Realignment Project.

“I see our project as averting a perfect storm,” Padgett said. “We want the port to grow, and we want people who live here to move around. And as the port grows, there will be significant truck and rail traffic.”

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