Concept sketch by NCDOT of “Steele Street facing the S-Line route”

Click to access the study PDF (450MB)

From The City of Sanford

Communities along the S-Line rail corridor in central North Carolina now have plans and strategies to prepare for Transit Oriented Development, or TOD, thanks to a study released this week by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

TOD creates compact development with a mix of housing, office space, retail, civic spaces and neighborhood amenities near a mobility hub that brings together in one location public transit, ride-sharing services and other modes of travel.

The study explores the development along the S-Line rail corridor, described as a missing link between Raleigh and Richmond, Va. The S-Line, the study states, will better connect the Southeast to Washington D.C. and places further north.

Access the study at

“The study is the result of a close partnership between NCDOT and the S-Line communities to understand how passenger rail can help each community achieve their goals,” said Julie White, NCDOT deputy secretary for Multimodal Transportation. “From more affordable housing to more walkable vibrant town centers, the study provides guidance to the towns for how to make the most of the future passenger rail opportunity.”

Through the TOD study, communities along the S-Line would leverage the future benefits of rail to plan for “improved mobility and access, increased housing, downtown vibrancy, higher quality of life and economic vitality.”

The S-Line TOD study evaluated market conditions, affordable housing considerations, multimodal transportation opportunities and regulatory conditions in several central North Carolina communities. The study proposes transportation improvements that would meet a vision responsive to each communities’ needs.

Two NCDOT divisions – Integrated Mobility and Rail – partnered with seven N.C. communities – Sanford, Apex, Raleigh, Wake Forest, Youngsville, Franklinton, Henderson and Norlina – to complete the study. The process evaluated previous transportation planning efforts, the potential for real estate market demand, and affordable housing considerations. Other planning factors included economic development, multimodal connectivity, environmental sustainability, and quality of life.

Each participating community received a “playbook” with recommendations to continue planning and development efforts. The “playbook” included sites to consider for transportation-focused development, a timeline for executing goals, and projects needed to complete multimodal transportation initiatives.

The next step of the plan involves mobility hub site assessments and design, made possible by a RAISE grant the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded in August 2022. Mobility hubs serve as a focal point for connectivity and development in each community — bringing together rail service with local transportation modes, private development, and other public land uses.

The outcomes of the TOD study underscore NCDOT’s goal to develop a robust multimodal system that provides safe and efficient access and mobility for all North Carolinians.

To learn more about the Integrated Mobility Division and Transit-Oriented Development, visit the IMD page at