Per Trains Newswire:
North Carolina desires restoration of abandoned rail line
RALEIGH, N. C. – Legislators in North Carolina filed a bill today calling on the state's department of transportation to upgrade some existing rail lines and fund the restoration of 27 miles of abandoned railroad between the towns of Castle Hayne and Wallace. The line was abandoned by CSX Transportation in the 1990s. Proponents hope that the rail line will give an economic boost to the Port of Wilmington.
House Bill 86 is primarily backed by State Reps. Susi Hamilton and Phil Shepard. The bill directs NCDOT to "seek funding" of $65.2 million, of which $50 million is set aside for the restoration of the Castle Hayne-Wallace line. The remainder of the money called for in the bill would go towards upgrades of an existing CSX route from Castle Hayne to Wilmington.
According to a report by the Wilmington Star News, a 2004 study estimated that the cost of relaying the route would be approximately $49 million.
Wilmington is presently served via a CSX line from the west over the Wilmington Subdivision. The Wallace-Castle Hayne section stretches north from Wilmington, and would connect with the end of the CSX W&W Subdivision to Goldsboro.
The abandoned route was part of the Wilmington & Western Railroad, and later the Atlantic Coast Line. CSX abandoned the line in the 1980s. NCDOT purchased the corridor in 1994. There are no tracks presently on the route. Five bridges were removed and would also need to be replaced.
The bill cites the movement of military equipment to the Port of Wilmington as a primary reason for reopening this route. North Carolina is home to several military bases, including the U.S. Marine base at Camp Lejeune. Presently these bases send equipment for overseas transport to either Norfolk, Va., or Charleston, S.C. Restoration of the rail line would cut transit times from Camp Lejeune to the Wilmington by four hours.
"There is a hole that goes through southeastern North Carolina," Hamilton told the paper.
Although the bill directs NCDOT to seek funding for the project, it does not identify any specific funding source. State officials note that there are no specific state funds identified for the line at this time. A spokesperson for CSX told the Wilmington Star News that it had no interest in investing its money into the route, but it would be "happy to discuss the matter with the state."