The Newell-Hickory Grove Road railroad crossing to Old Concord Road in northeast Charlotte is scheduled to be closed permanently April 4, weeks before the opening of a new bridge on Grier Road that would serve as an alternative route.
Loss of the bridge and the crossing will make travel locally more cumbersome between W.T. Harris Boulevard and North Tryon Street.
Blocking the railroad crossing ahead of the bridge’s opening will allow work to continue on a separate project that will add 12 miles on a second set track and realign curves in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties, according to N.C. Department of Transportation.
With additional tracks and less congestion, travel time between Raleigh and Charlotte should be reduced, according to N.C. DOT.
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While the bridge and the tracks are separate projects, both fall under the Piedmont Improvement Program, which is funded in part by federal stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The Federal Railroad Administration awarded the state a $545 million grant in 2010 to pay for the improvements. Construction began in February 2014.
When completed, the projects will make way for two additional daily round-trip Amtrak runs, bringing the total to five daily, said Jordan-Ashley Baker, a spokeswoman for N.C. DOT.
This improvement program is designed to modernize the rail corridor between Charlotte and Harrisburg through highway and rail infrastructure upgrades. It also is expected to make trains safer and more reliable and to allow for economic and commercial growth.
The rail corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte is one of the busiest in the state, according to N.C. DOT.
Closing the crossing at Newell-Hickory Grove Road is expected to reduce the risk of collisions between vehicles and trains. It also should reduce train and auto traffic congestion.
The Grier Road bridge is scheduled to open in May, to carry traffic over the existing and new North Carolina Railroad Company tracks.
The $14 million construction contract for the Grier Road Grade Separation also calls for raising Old Concord Road to meet the Grier Road bridge.
Improvements also are planned on Orr Road, Grierview Lane, Branch Hill Circle, Lauren Village Drive and Farmfield Lane.
Until the Grier Road bridge opens, a lengthy detour will be set up along Old Concord Road, W.T. Harris Boulevard and Grier Road.
Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms