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Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo today participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new $24 million railroad bridge at Hopson Road in Durham, N.C.
The two-track rail bridge will eliminate long delays for vehicular traffic by closing two grade crossings and associated work to straighten rail curves will enable train speeds to be increased from 55 mph to 79 mph, and up to 90 mph in the future, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) officials said in a press release.
In addition, the project calls for building a new three-mile-long passing siding to foster more efficient freight and passenger train movements in and out of the Raleigh, N.C., area. The entire $27 million project is slated for completion in December 2015.
The Fred Smith Co. will build the bridge/overpass, realign a street and perform grading work for a parallel track. Norfolk Southern Railway will construct the second track.
The bridge/overpass is the first of 12 planned projects in the Piedmont Improvement Program that are designed to separate rail and highway traffic in part by eliminating 50 crossings between Charlotte and Raleigh.
In January 2010, the North Carolina Department of Transportation received about $545 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to complete Piedmont Improvement Program projects — including about 30 projects overall and 12 grade separations — by September 2017. Program partners include NS, CSX Transportation, North Carolina Railroad Co. and the FRA.
The projects will be a catalyst for job creation, increase safety, create faster travel times, improve rail service reliability and on-time performance, and support the addition of third and fourth daily passenger trains between Raleigh and Charlotte, FRA officials said.
"Working together with passenger and freight railroads, state and local agencies, law enforcement and the community, we can fix our existing rail infrastructure, save lives and strengthen the local economy all at the same time," said Szabo.