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North Carolina Railroad Co.'s (NCRR) board has approved more than $13 million in economic development investments designed to expand rail access, improve safety and sustain several rail projects.Last year, the railroad enhanced its commitment to economic development and progress across the state by adopting a new strategic plan that focuses on job creation and retention. Each year, the railroad commits millions of dollars in revenue to improve rail infrastructure and fuel economic progress along and beyond its 317-mile corridor between Charlotte and the Port of Morehead City, NCRR officials said in a press release."Our mission is to enable freight to grow business, expand rail to move people and invest in North Carolina," said NCRR President Scott Saylor. "We're committed to working with local, state and private partners in planning for freight- and passenger-rail mobility now and in the future."The investments include an allocation to improve lead tracks and sidings along the mainline in Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties. Estimated to cost $5.35 million, the project will improve service for the 2,000 carloads of freight handled for area businesses annually and better serve the dozens of industries located along the busy line, NCRR officials said.The railroad also is tentatively budgeting for a plan that calls for partnering with the town of Morrisville and other parties to replace the Crabtree Creek Bridge that was built in 1927. The project would accommodate a pedestrian walkway and two future mainline tracks that potentially could be required to maintain freight- and passenger-rail service.Other projects considered for some of the approved investments include drainage system improvements in Lenoir and Jones counties, additional rehabilitation of the Trent River Swing Bridge in conjunction with Norfolk Southern Railway and a potential grade crossing improvement in Durham.Since 2000, the NCRR has allocated more than $80 million in capital improvements. The railroad also has committed more than $60 million for economic development efforts through 2020.