WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The train system in Wilmington runs right through the city’s heart, and leaders say rail service is only going to increase in coming years.
As the productivity at the port increases, they’re expecting the city to become more congested with train traffic. That’s why city planners are trying to do something about it now.
Thirty-two streets cross over train tracks in Wilmington. Some crossings are near neighborhoods.
“It felt like it was coming through my apartment,” Tucker Davidson, who lives at South Front, said of the sound of the trains near his home. “I sat up straight in bed, and I actually thought it was coming through my apartment it was so loud.”
Davidson is not alone.
The train line in Wilmington goes right through the middle of town disturbing many in its path. This is just one reason why city leaders are looking to the future.
“The city will be more congested with rail in the next few years,” City Councilwoman Laura Padgett said.
With Vertex, Enviva, the port’s cold storage facility and the expected population growth of 50,000 in the next 25 years, planners say we have to look toward the future. A proposal in its very early stages suggests realigning the rail line across the Cape Fear River.
“It is my understanding that rail construction is not nearly as involved and complicated as vehicle construction,” Wilmington Planning Director Glenn Harbeck said.
If the railroad can be relocated, planners say the existing rail could be used for a trolley line. It’s an idea planners say some citizens have asked for.
“I don’t think they had any specific notion on how that might happen, but there was a lot of support for it,” Harbeck said.
Leaders hope the rest of the community supports the proposal, too. A feasibility study is the next step. That would determine details for this potential project, like how much it could cost.
“People that are just going to say, ‘Hey, what’s it going to cost?’ would be short-sighted to do so,”
There’s no word yet how much a study would cost.
Wilmington’s planning director will make a presentation to the New Hanover County Commission August 13.
We reached out to CSX, which owns the train tracks, but have not heard back.