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Rail infrastructure projects get over $368M in federal grants

Awarded projects align with broader objectives supporting safety, economic growth, sustainability and resiliency

The Federal Railroad Administration announced more than $368 million in federal grants to rail infrastructure projects. (Photo: Shutterstock/marekuliasz)

The Federal Railroad Administration on Thursday announced the projects across the U.S. that will receive federal grants totaling over $368 million to support rail infrastructure improvements.

The 46 projects in 32 states and the District of Columbia bolster passenger and freight rail infrastructure. They are all recipients of grants through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program.

The projects improve and expand passenger rail, including high-speed rail, and aim to increase supply chain resiliency and fluidity, FRA said. They also support short-line railroads and investments in technology and safety. 

The CRISI program got a boost from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, which called for $1 billion a year for the next five years to support the program. Objectives that align with the grants include those that support safety, economic growth, transportation equity, and sustainable and resilient infrastructure, according to FRA. The projects must also enable state and local governments as well as rail carriers to meet renewed travel demand and strengthen supply chains.

As a result of the funding boost, this round of CRISI grants is one of the largest ever and “is a major step forward for the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to revitalize and rebuild the country’s infrastructure,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose.

A full list of funded projects is available here. The projects will receive matching funding from local and state authorities as well as private sources.

Short-line operators, such as Denver-based Pioneer Lines, expressed gratitude for the grants. Pioneer, a holding company for 15 short-line railroads, is involved in two grants for infrastructure improvements, both of which will be matched by state and local groups and the company. One is nearly $2.6 million for the Elkhart and Western Railroad in Indiana, and the other is $1.8 million for the Gettysburg and Northern Railway in Pennsylvania. 

“Pioneer Lines is dedicated to bolstering safety and customer service across our railroads. Funding provided for this project will do just that by improving grade crossing safety and track conditions on the Gettysburg and Northern Railway,” said Pioneer Lines CEO Alex Yeros. The railway “has tremendous growth potential and is ideally situated to serve Pennsylvania’s agriculture and manufacturing sectors. We look forward to working with our state and local officials to grow business and economic activity throughout the region.”

Meanwhile, the Maryland Port Administration thanked FRA on Thursday for the nearly $15.7 million award to upgrade its intermodal rail yard at the Seagirt Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore.

Freight rail-related projects receiving more than $10 million in funding include: 

  • Up to $25 million to the Alameda County Transportation Commission for the county’s rail safety enhancement program, which aims to make safety improvements to 28 at-grade crossings and two trespassing sites along Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) track. The improvements aim to make crossings safer, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • More than $21 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation for infrastructure improvements associated with the Great Lakes corridor and the Great Lakes Central Railroad. The project, selected in part because it meets a federal requirement that some projects be located in rural areas, will result in fewer track defects and other maintenance problems associated with rail joints.  
  • Over $15 million  to the Maryland Port Administration for the Port of Baltimore rail capacity modernization project, which will support multimodal connections with rail, road and water to Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) and CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) and enhance freight rail connections to the East Coast and Midwest markets.
  • Over $14 million to the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Berks in Pennsylvania for infrastructure, safety and capacity upgrades to the Colebrookdale Railroad. The upgrades, which include improvements to track, the rehabilitation or replacement of 14 bridges, and the construction of two rail-served transload yards and six sidings, will meet existing shipper demand while providing additional capacity for future growth. The project will also address drainage issues.
  • Nearly $11 million to the Kansas Department of Transportation for infrastructure improvements to the Cimarron Valley Railroad from Dodge City to Hugoton, Kansas. The improvements will serve local biodiesel transport options and agricultural products, increase weight capacity and raise the allowable speed from 10 mph to 25 mph.
  • $10 million to the Central Puget Sound Regional Transport in Washington for the Pierre County rail capacity and reliability improvement project. The project aims to complete a preliminary engineering and environmental review for track and signal improvements to increase passenger and freight rail capacity along the 12-mile Pacific Northwest High Speed Rail Corridor in southern Puget Sound. 

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.