Rail crossing on N.C. 18 to become walking path

Aug. 25, 2014 @ 07:13 PM

The dilapidated railroad crossing over Morganton Boulevard between Virginia Street and Harrisburg Drive in Lenoir will be removed and turned into a pedestrian crossing.

The Caldwell County Railroad Commission unanimously gave the project the go-ahead on Monday.

The railroad ties at the crossing, which Lenoir Public Works Director Charles Beck said are “very loose and rotting,” and the metail rails will be removed, the path will be paved, and a pedestrian refuge -- a concrete island where pedestrians can wait while crossing -- will be installed in the center lane.

Kenny Heavner, the county maintenance engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said the work will be done in the course of routine repaving.

“Our current resurfacing plan for next year includes that stretch,” Heavner said. “If we take it up, it’s a permanent fix.”

Heavner said the rails and ties may be removed by the end of the year, though it may be next spring, and the resurfacing would be done in 2015, all paid for by NCDOT. After that, the city would pay for and install the pedestrian refuge.

The railroad commission would maintain ownership of the track’s right of way, and part of the agreement stipulates that if there were ever a need to replace the track crossing, NCDOT would replace it.

The crossing is part of a five-mile section of railroad track that was closed in 2007 as part of the arrangements to bring Google’s data center to Lenoir. The tracks pass Google’s property, and Google was concerned about the effects of vibrations on its computers.

City officials want to transform the unused portion of the rail into a pedestrian pathway, eventually connecting it to the Lenoir Greenway.