Fifteen railroad crossings targeted; tracks from Salisbury to Kannapolis need upgrades to handle high speed trains
By Jessie Burchette
A project to upgrade railroad tracks to accommodate high speed trains is now targeting 15 crossings from Salisbury to Kannapolis.
The Rail Division of the N.C. Department of Transportation, which is already planning to restore a second set of tracks, is now looking at upgrading or closing crossings from the private Reid Farm Crossing near Airport Road to 18th Street in Kannapolis.
As with the adding of the second set of tracks, state officials are hoping to get federal stimulus money to pay the costs.
The crossings include 18th Street, 22nd Street, 29th Street, East Mill Street, Ryder Street, Central Avenue, Eudy Road, Thom Street, Centerview Street, Church Street, Mount Hope Church Road, Webb Road, Peeler Road, Peach Orchard Road and Reid Farm private crossing.
Marc Hamel with the Rail Division, said planners are looking at locations for grade separations ó either a bridge over the tracks or trenching under the tracks.
"If we build a bridge at one location, we could close crossings nearby," Hamel said.
He noted that topography and nearby development will be factors along with the traffic count at each crossing.
Rail Division officials will also talk with representative of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools, various fire departments and emergency services that routinely use the crossings.
The Department of Transportation will hold a information workshop on Thursday, Nov. 12, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the China Grove Community Memorial Building, 412 S. Myrtle St.
Transportation officials held a hearing on the restoration of the second set of tracks at the Community Building on July 28.
Most of the crossings in Landis and China Grove are on the list and officials fear the potential impact on the towns.
Don Bringle, mayor of China Grove, said Thursday that town officials are very concerned about the Centerview and Thom Street crossings. "They say those are the most challenging crossings … we can't allow them to be closed."
Bringle pointed out that both China Grove and Landis have endorsed closing the Eudy Road crossing with the understanding that an above grade separation was planned to bring Kimball Road across to U.S. 29. But Bringle said he isn't sure where that project now stands.
Hamel said the Landis and China Grove crossing are a challenge. "It's a tight area. It's not pretty, there's a lot of encroachment (along the line)."
Hamel said planners are looking at what is feasible for grade separations, closings. The rest will be upgraded with crossing arms systems and ways to prevent drivers from getting on the tracks.
"Any time you have people crossing at grade, you get people driving in front of the trains."
Hamel said designers are working on concepts for possible grade separations. "We will do our very best to keep people from getting in front of trains."
If the stimulus money is approved, Hamel said it will likely be summer before the final decisions and details are worked out on which crossings will be closed, remain open, or have grade separations.
The Rail Division is also scheduled to hold another information session on details for the addition of he second set of tracks. That session is expected to be in December.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.