The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding more than $326 million in grants to help states and localities repair, maintain and build rail infrastructure supporting freight rail and intercity passenger rail.
Grant money from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program, known as CRISI, and the Special Transportation Circumstances program will go to 45 projects across 29 states. One-third of the funds, or $118 million, has been awarded to rural projects, the FRA said on June 12.
The awards will also go to 21 short line and regional railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) said. The short line industry values these awards because freight railroads are often responsible for funding the bulk of their maintenance and capital improvements on their respective networks.
“The availability of programs that allow railroads to leverage their significant private investment to upgrade rails and bridges to modern standards leads to safer, more fuel- and cost-efficient rail service,” ASLRRA president Chuck Baker said.
The full list of award winners can be found here.
Many of the awards for freight rail-related projects involve track maintenance, upgrades and rehabilitation so that the tracks can bear heavier trains and enable higher speeds.
Eight freight rail-related projects secured award funding of more than $10 million. These include:
- Sierra Northern Railway’s consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvement (California): FRA awarded Sierra Northern Railway funding up to $17.4 million to upgrade 55 miles of track between Riverbank, California, to Standard, California.
- Pan Am Railways mainline upgrades and rail safety crossing improvements (Maine): the Maine Department of Transportation was awarded nearly $17.5 million to modernize 75 miles of mainline track, which will entail replacing 37 miles of rail, upgrading 25 switches, upgrading 47 public and 42 private at-grade rail crossings, extending and upgrading existing siding, replacing signal systems and replacing bridge deck timbers on eight rail bridges.
- Improvements at the Fullerton Junction Interlocking and Third Main Track between Control Point Atwood and Control Point Esperanaza on the BNSF San Bernardino Subdivision (California): FRA awarded the Southern California Regional Rail Authority up to $30 million for track and signal improvements and the construction of a 4.8-mile third mainline track, which will ultimately reduce delays experienced by Amtrak, Metrolink and BNSF.
- Congestion reduction in Jacksonville (Florida): the Florida Department of Transportation gets $17.6 million to upgrade switches, construct track and improve rail communications in order to reduce rail and road congestion through San Marco and over the St. John’s River in Jacksonville.
- CREATE Project WA111-Dolton Junction Interlocking (Illinois): The FRA awarded $19.2 million to the Illinois Department of Transportation to upgrade and reconfigure track affiliated with CSX, the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad and Union Pacific. The award will also enable upgrades to signal connections at Dolton Interlocking and improvements at nine at-grade crossings. The funding will serve as a component of the Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program.
- MacArthur Bridge Rehabilitation project (Missouri): The Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis gets up to $28.8 million to rehabilitate the MacArthur Bridge, which connects St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois, over the Mississippi River, so that the bridge can accommodate 315,000-pound railcars. The award will complete ongoing rehabilitations on the 100-year bridge.
- Piedmont Atlantic Intermodal Rail System (North Carolina): The FRA has granted up to $34.9 million to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to complete an upgrade of 9.5 miles of track and expand rail freight service from the Port of Wilmington to Charlotte, North Carolina. The funding will also go towards rehabilitating two rail bridges over the Cape Fear River and improving 33 at-grade crossings.
- Freeman Avenue/Norfolk-Portsmouth Beltline Railroad Overpass (Virginia): the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, gets up to $10.7 million to complete the engineering, design and environmental process that will enable the construction of a roadway overpass to grade separate the crossing of the Class III Norfolk and Portsmouth Beltline Railroad at Freeman Avenue in Chesapeake. The overpass will enable rail yard operations to increase and grow capacity.