Strong partnership builds rail interchange, advances economic growth
Representatives of the North Carolina State Ports Authority, the NC Department of Transportation and the Wilmington Terminal Railroad L.L.C. (WTR) drove ceremonial golden spikes, marking the completion of a new, 5,300-foot rail siding on the Port of Wilmington.
“We realized the need for additional track to increase storage capacity within the Port and alleviate congestion some time ago,” said Ports Authority CEO Tom Eagar. “Until now, assembling outbound trains has been inefficient, with railcars scattered throughout the Port.”
The Ports Authority and NCDOT partnered with WTR to construct the mile-long siding to improve the flow of rail traffic around the Port. The Ports Authority contributed $600,000 toward the cost of the construction. The NCDOT Short Line Infrastructure Assistance Program, which assists short line railroads with track maintenance and improvements, awarded a grant for $200,000 to get the project started. The new interchange siding is located on Port property and owned by the Ports Authority. It is leased by WTR, which operates and maintains the on-port railroad’s more than 18 miles of track, before the construction of the new siding. Four miles is main line, with the rest in the yard and industry spurs.
“Investments such as this that improve our rail infrastructure for international ports of entry will continue to attract industries to our state,” said NC Board of Transportation member Lanny Wilson of Wilmington. “This partnership between public and private entities is a real win-win scenario.”
By increasing storage capacity, the project expedites the building of daily 40-60 car westbound trains destined for CSX Transportation’s Davis yard in Leland, NC, and minimizes impact on public crossings near the Port. In addition to cargo being imported and exported through the Port of Wilmington, the daily trains provide service to other companies up and down the Cape Fear River. The extra storage track also facilitates military movements and will allow for the building of double-stack trains in the future.
“The Wilmington Terminal Railroad is proud to take part in this exciting project,” said WTR President Bill Jasper. “By partnering with the Ports Authority and NCDOT, our small railroad was able to expand track capacity to better serve the larger port transportation hub that links Wilmington and North Carolina to the world.”