NCVR gains federal grant

Published 9:09 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

AHOSKIE – A multi-million dollar federal grant to an Ahoskie-based business serves as a barometer that the economy is on the mend locally.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced its listing of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VI grants. Of the 72 grant winners from across the nation, the North Carolina & Virginia Railroad Company (NCVR) was awarded $5.8 million to modernize its freight rail line that winds its way through portions of Hertford, Bertie and Northampton counties.

The improvement project – which NCVA is investing over $3 million of its own money – stands to better interconnect northeastern North Carolina businesses with the rest of the country and boost the region’s economy.

“This grant supports a project that will be an economic game-changer for eastern North Carolina, both to help the existing industries that need modern, efficient rail freight service and to attract new industry to the region,” said NCVR President Jim Irvin. “Thanks goes to Congressman (G.K) Butterfield, North Carolina DOT, U.S. DOT, and our local communities and customers for their support to make this project a reality.”

The TIGER grant and funds from NCVA will combine to rehabilitate portions of a 52-mile rail corridor that will allow for the operation of 286,000-pound rail cars along its length. Approximately 17.5 miles of new rail will be installed; crossties and eight main line turnouts will be replaced; four highway grade crossings will be rehabilitated; and approximately 30 miles of roadbed will be surfaced.

“Upgrading eastern North Carolina’s infrastructure to better connect our businesses to the global economy is critical to our state’s long-term economic competitiveness,” said Butterfield. “This investment in Bertie, Hertford, and Northampton counties has the potential to enhance the entire eastern North Carolina region.  Specifically, these funds will enable the North Carolina & Virginia Railroad Company to develop a modern 52-mile freight corridor through the heart of eastern North Carolina and increase transportation options for commerce in North Carolina’s First Congressional District.  I thank Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx for recognizing the importance of this project and awarding this grant.”

Butterfield has been integral to NCVR’s efforts to support freight transportation in eastern North Carolina, strengthen the economy, and create jobs.  In addition to discussing the company’s application with Secretary Foxx, Butterfield sent a letter of support on the project’s behalf to USDOT, and has visited Nucor Steel in Hertford County, which stands to benefit from increased freight rail capacity from the project.

NCVR’s line extends to Nucor Steel. The rail company also serves businesses that dot the Roanoke-Chowan area landscape along its tracks in Cofield, Ahoskie, Aulander, Kelford, Roxobel, Rich Square, Woodland, Potecasi, Milwaukee, Conway, Pendleton, Severn, and Boykins, VA, where it interchanges with the CSXT line.

NCVA, headquartered in Ahoskie, began operations in 1987, utilizing a line formerly owned and operated by the former Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. Major commodities that move on the NCVR are steel plate, steel scrap, soybeans, chemicals and fertilizer. The rail company provides 5-to-7-day service based on customer needs.

By enabling the NCVR to handle higher capacity freight cars, the TIGER project significantly increases the mobility of freight in this region of North Carolina, improving the overall quality of life for its residents, and expanding the competitiveness of existing companies in the area using rail freight services.

The TIGER program provides a unique opportunity for USDOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. Since 2009, Congress has dedicated more than $4.1 billion for six rounds to fund projects that have a significant impact on the Nation, a region or a metropolitan area.

The latest round of funding totaled $600 million across the nation.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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