The Project:

The Rail Realignment project seeks to replace and enhance the existing freight rail access between Navassa (Davis) Yard and the Port of Wilmington with a new, shorter route that minimizes the need for compromises between freight rail operations, public mobility and quality of life in the region. Once operable, the existing freight route that weaves through the heart of Wilmington today would be repurposed for alternate public transportation, to include possibilities such as passenger rail, trolley, bus, bike, or pedestrian use. 


Why It's Needed:

The Rail Realignment project is a proactive, forward-looking effort driven primarily by two factors – regional population growth and the regional growth of freight by rail. Population growth in the region is taking place at a rapid pace. Census statistics show that between 2010 and 2017 the regional population grew over 15%, which is three times the national average. The Port of Wilmington has also seen tremendous growth, especially to its container business which saw 26% growth in twenty-foot equivalent units between 2017 and 2018. The project seeks to create a system that caters to both growing freight rail needs as well as the expanding needs of public mobility and quality of life within the community - a setup by which frictionless growth in population and freight by rail can be enjoyed well into the future.  


Why Start Now:

There are projects in various stages of early development today that will shape the transportation future of the region. These projects – which include the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge Replacement, South Front Street Widening and the Extension of Independence Boulevard – all intersect with the future of freight rail in the region. As these projects are being pursued, so too should the future of freight rail access in the region. Infrastructure projects with the scope and magnitude of Rail Realignment, as well as those previously mentioned, take considerable time to implement. As such, the City of Wilmington has begun work on Rail Realignment today to address the multi-modal needs of region tomorrow.  



On June 12, 2019 the Wilmington Rail Realignment project was announced as a recipient of up to $2 million in grant funds by the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program. This grant requires a state or local match in the amount of $500,000, which will be furnished by NC DOT in $250,000 increments over two fiscal years.

We are currently accepting a request for qualifications and letters of interest from consulting firms with relevant expertise in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes and preliminary engineering for railroad projects. Submissions are due by 3:00PM EST on February 18th, 2020. Find more information here.