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The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Rail Division last week awarded an additional $10 million for freight-rail and rail-crossing safety improvements for fiscal-year 2017.Four short-line improvement projects were selected for funding, with half the cost coming from the state and half from private investment, according to a department press release.The state established its Freight Rail and Rail Crossing Safety Improvement program in 2013. The funds approved last week brings the total program funding to $13.75 million for the year.The approved projects for 2017 involve:• $1.7 million to upgrade bridges in Wake, Nash, Wilson and Beaufort counties and to replace more than 10,000 crossties over 31 track miles in Wake, Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties. In key areas, rail roadbed and crossties will be replaced to accommodate heavier rail cars.• $73 million to return rail service in Columbus County between Chadbourn and Whiteville, as well as other track upgrades from Chadbourn to Tabor City and into South Carolina to connect the line to the national rail system.• $725,000 to replace five culverts and harden the railroad over 29 miles in Currituck, Camden and Pasquotank counties.• $393,594 to build a new truck/train transload facility in Hoke County, and to replace crossties and harden the railroad for 8 miles in Cumberland and Hoke counties.
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