The plan to implement a grade separation at the Franklin Boulevard and Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing has been in the planning stages for a while.
Grade separation is what Department of Transportation people call a bridge or a tunnel. There was wide agreement that grade separation was needed at this railroad crossing; the question was, do you put the railroad tracks over Franklin Boulevard or Franklin Boulevard over the railroad tracks.
At the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13, the final decision was announced and it was still confusing.
After it was announced, TAC member and Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson asked, “Over or under the railroad?”
NC DOT Division Engineer Mike Mills said, “Under.” He added that Franklin Boulevard would be closed for more than a year during construction.
The way it will actually work is that a temporary bridge will be built for the train to go over Franklin Boulevard while the permanent railroad bridge is being built, so for at least a while there will be two bridges.
No one asked this question, but if they have to build a temporary bridge for the trains to go over the road anyway, it makes you wonder if after the permanent bridge is opened if that temporary bridge could become a pedestrian bridge. It seems a bridge strong enough to carry trains, even temporarily, would be strong enough to carry pedestrians for decades, and there are two schools just east of this site.
Chair of the TAC City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said that the original plan of the traffic engineers had been for Franklin Boulevard to go over the railroad tracks, but after a community meeting that was changed so the road will now go under the railroad.
But even though the over-under decision has been made construction is still a few years away. The start date for the project is listed as January 2023, and the completion date in 2025.