After three years of complaints from drivers, the railroad track running through Wendell may receive much-needed repair toward the end of summer with help from the state Department of Transportation.
Town Manager Teresa Piner said she receives about a complaint a week about the tracks that separate the north and south side of the town. Drivers are usually concerned about their car’s alignment from the bumpy ride over the tracks where the tracks aren’t as tall as the asphalt.
Most of the complaints come via phone calls in the mornings, when residents are on their way to work.
It’s been going on for a bit of time, Piner said.
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Emails from Piner show she contacted the rail company, Carolina Coastal, in March to ask what could be done. The company told her they had several areas to repair and Wendell’s repairs had been delayed, but they would pick it back up.
“We now have it back on the front burner and will push to repair this spring,” Carolina Coastal general manager Virgil Holmon wrote to her in March.
The town was initially told repairs woould be made in May, but May came and went and no repairs were made.
Now, with the help of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, repairs are supposed to be made in late summer.
“The railroad crossings have been in fairly poor condition for the last three years,” she said. “We've contacted Carolina Coastal Railway with these complaints and have been told that they would be taken care of and looked at on numerous occasions.”
Carolina Coastal runs a track from Belhaven near the coast, to the Raleigh area. Carolina Coastal leases the track from Norfolk Southern.
Piner said over the past few years, Carolina Coastal said they would make repairs, but repairs never came. Public Works Director Alton Bryant eventually contacted the NCDOT’s Rail Division to get help.
Since parts of the track runs through DOT-owned roads, it is up to DOT to maintain the roads by working with Carolina Coastal, who maintains the actual rail.
“It’s a team effort between NCDOT’s Rail Division and Carolina Coastal,” Piner said.
David Hinnant, Surface Encroachment Manager in the NC DOT Rail Division said the agency has plans to repair crossings at North Pine Street, North Cypress and North Buffalo streets.
Hinnant also saw the crossing at Main Street with Bryant, but said DOT would not have a role in that repair byond helping the town contact the rail company because it is not a DOT road.
“I told (Bryant) I would be happy to speak on their behalf with the railroad company about the crossing. That's something we do all over the state.” Hinnant said.
Hinnant said he spoke with Holmon about the needed repairs on Main Street, but he did not receive a firm commitment from Holman that the work would be done or when it would be done.