WILMINGTON — Officials are looking to relocate the freight rail line that runs through the city across Cape Fear River and are applying for a grant to fund studying the proposal, the StarNews reported.
During a meeting Tuesday, the council gave the go-ahead to apply for a $2 million grant through Federal Rail Administration to fund further engineering and environmental studies, which will help determine the project’s viability.
The city also committed to “be responsible for the local grant match of up to $500,000 excluding contributions made by other local stakeholders,” according to the resolution that was unanimously approved.
Early plans show the proposed new rail line crossing the Cape Fear, possibly linking to a new highway crossing of the river, traveling north on Eagles Island and up the U.S. 421 corridor before rejoining the existing CSX line that runs to the rail yard in Navassa, the StarNews report continued.
Supporters of the proposal say that this realignment will improve rail access to the Port of Wilmington and improve the flow of traffic.
The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, study type will be $500,000 and the NEPA study and document is to come in at $2,000,000, making the total project $2,500,000, according to the agenda packet cover letter written by the city manager, Sterling B. Cheatham. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions.
Brunswick, Pender New Hanover and Columbus counties also support the proposed realignment and applying for the federal grant.
A 2017 feasibility study put the cost of rail realignment to be more than $750 million.