Thursday, 10 August 2017 15:55

RPO recommends Amtrak project be included in NC transportation plan

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The Peanut Belt Rural Planning Organization Technical Advisory Council has recommended a proposed Amtrak station in Weldon be put on the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan.

Halifax County Commissioner Vernon Bryant, who serves as chair of the council, said the recommendation is a huge step. “The TAC has a lot of influence. We’ve got a lot of support from the state.”

According to email correspondence between the state Department of Transportation and the Halifax County Economic Development Commission the cost of the Weldon project is around $4 million.

The cost includes renovating the old depot which currently serves as the town’s library and construct site improvements, including the platform to serve as a train station.

Natasha Earle-Young, a transportation engineer within DOT’s Transportation Planning Branch provided the details of the Weldon and overall rail improvements in a recent email to Cathy Scott, executive director of the  county EDC.

The project is tied to the larger CSX intermodal terminal project in Rocky Mount, said Allan Paul, acting director of DOT’s rail division. “They own the track,” he said of CSX. “We can’t do anything without them.”

Paul said the rail division has just started discussions with CSX and the division is exploring grant opportunities for the Weldon project. “It goes through a review process. The RPO has to assign points and prioritize to help determine how quickly it rises. The rail division is optimistic.”

A resolution supporting the project was adopted by the RPO and has been sent to the state.

Because the Weldon project is tied to the intermodal project, there are several improvements that will have to be made to tracks in Halifax and Northampton counties, Earle-Young noted in the email.

That project includes completion of a nearly 11-mile section of track along the CSX A-line from north of Garysburg to north of Halifax. That project would eliminate the single track section from the Roanoke River to South Weldon.  

The project consists of new main track construction including rehabilitation or reconstruction of the CSX SA-line bridge over the Roanoke River and construction of a new connection between the CSX A-line and CSX SA-line.

It also calls for reconstruction of the existing siding as main track and railroad signal construction to effectively create a second main track along the CSX A-line between the new connection and the existing Weldon railroad control point.

This would be to accommodate the intermodal, Scott said. “They expect more freight traffic.”

The new line, bridge rehabilitation or reconstruction and construction of a new connection will eliminate the bottleneck between freight and passenger trains, Scott said.

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