WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington’s rail realignment effort received a boost this week as officials confirmed the project was awarded a coveted Federal Railway Administration grant.
Laura Padgett, a former Wilmington City Council member and the coordinator of the realignment project, said she learned from Senator Thom Tillis’ office Friday that Wilmington was one of the projects awarded the funding.
“This is actually huge,” she said.
Padgett briefed Wilmington City Council members in late May on the progress of the realignment project, and said if the grant were to come through, the first real steps of the project could get underway.
The grant will fund the first phases of design and engineering for the major adjustment to the railways, as well as some of the analysis of how the project will affect the environment. Both, Padgett said, are critical before work can actually begin.
“You can’t really design or build anything if you haven’t gotten some engineering done as to what it’s going to look like, where it’s going to go, what size it’s going to be, and how much it’s going to cost. So, a portion of the grant will go toward that," she said.
These efforts will assist in creating a “packet” that can be put out in requests for proposals, which Padgett said the new project manager for realignment, who starts this month, will begin in earnest thanks to the funding.
Padgett said she was excited to learn the news the city received the FRA grant, and the project can finally move forward.
“It is the answer certainly to my vision and dreams, and I have to say, the city deserves this grant, the city has a good reputation with granting agencies in the federal government,” she said. “This award goes to the city for the city to continue as the lead agency. And my thanks to city council for being 100 percent for this project, and the city staff for helping to get this done.”