State awards contract for CSX rail connector near Pembroke, North Carolina

September 18, 2015

PEMBROKE – A 2.4-mile stretch of railroad track in Robeson County could benefit national security and open up passenger service from Fayetteville to Wilmington.

The single-track railroad connection near Pembroke comes after more than 14 years of study and debate over rail service linking Raleigh to the coast.Website Insert Start Here copy

The state Department of Transportation announced this month that it awarded a $10.2 million grading contract to C.M. Lindsay & Sons Inc. of Lumberton to create the path for the connector. When the grading is complete, CSX Transportation will build the track and railroad signals.

The track will connect the CSX north-south railroad line to its east-west line just north of Pembroke.

State officials released a study in 2001 that indicated a high interest in southeastern rail service. The research led to talk about a passenger line from Raleigh to Wilmington, with discussion focusing on whether it should go through Fayetteville or Goldsboro.

A study by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce found significant benefits for the Fayetteville route. The line would attract visitors, allow easier access to the state port in Wilmington by Fort Bragg, relieve traffic on Interstate 95 and connect universities in Wilmington, Pembroke, Fayetteville and the Raleigh area, the study said.

The Fayetteville option hit a snag in 2004, when Pembroke officials objected to the connector’s proposed path through town. Neither alternative was selected due to funding issues.

The new connector takes a different route farther from Pembroke. It will bypass the town to the north, which DOT officials say will alleviate freight congestion and create a safer and more efficient route for trains.

Staff writer Steve DeVane has the full story in The Fayetteville Observer by clicking here.

 

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