WILMINGTON -- The state is making progress in plans to bring an improved railway system to southeastern North Carolina. Seven million dollars from the state budget could be used to eventually bring freight and passenger train services to our area. Supporters say it would reduce highway congestion between cities like Raleigh and Wilmington. Pat Simmons from the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Rail Division said improving the current freight system is the priority right now, but there are plans for a passenger system down the road. Simmons says improving the freight system would mean a shorter transit time and more reliable service into Wilmington's ports. The state's Port Authority's CEO Tom Eagar is in full support of the project. Eagar said, "With the additional rail it certainly opens up the port of Wilmington and the new international port in Southport to support and aid the movement of military cargos." Simmons says the state needs a federal funding partner to move the project along. The DOT owns property in downtown Wilmington for the proposed bus and train station.
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