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Property owners urged to attend railroad workshop

Staff report
County leaders are urging all property owners along the railroad from south of Salisbury to North Kannapolis to attend a workshop on planned changes in the tracks.
The N.C. Railroad Co. will discuss plans to add a second railroad track during an informational workshop Tuesday at the China Grove Community Building, 412 S. Myrtle St. from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Talk of restoring the second set of tracks the full length between Salisbury and Kannapolis has gained momentum over the past decade.
The purpose of the additional track is to improve train travel and minimize congestion on the existing rail line between Greensboro and Charlotte.
Rep. Fred Steen and Carl Ford, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, said all property owners should attend the workshop.
Steen, who serves on a legislative committee dealing with the N.C. Railroad, said the double track installation won’t happen unless the federal government puts up 80 percent or more of the funding.
Steen said he has been contacted by property owners who are concerned about their businesses and the close proximity of a second set of tracks.
“We need to find the best solution to the business owners’ concerns all along the corridor,” Steen said. He has talked with railroad company officials on behalf of some business owners who have contacted him.
While some areas still have two sets of tracks, the railroad company took up large sections several decades ago as train usage declined.
The restoration of the second set of tracks could affect some businesses and municipalities along the rail line.
Ford said he has heard from several businessmen who may lose their buildings as a result of the addition or realignment of tracks.
The N.C. Railroad Co.’s position is that it will buy buildings, but not land. The company contends it owns a wide swath of right of way along the track.
Ford urged all property owners to attend the workshop to get information and express their opinions.
According to an announcement from state highway officials, the proposed improvements begin approximately one-half mile north of Peach Orchard Road and extend to just south of East 22nd Street in Kannapolis.
Officials also note that minor railroad alignment changes and safety improvements are also being considered.

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