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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT to help fund transit projects in three states


U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) recently announced that Metra will receive a federal $5.3 million Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program grant to help reduce emissions.
In February, Durbin met with newly appointed Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Alex Clifford to discuss an ongoing review of diesel locomotive emissions. Metra currently is using funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction II, or TIGGER II, program to retrofit locomotives operating in yards. By shutting down idling locomotives via automatic start/stop systems, Metra each year could save 800,000 gallons of diesel fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80,000 tons, the agency estimates.
The federal CMAQ funding includes:
• $4 million to repower two locomotives — including new diesel engines and control packages — for Milwaukee District Service (North and West lines);
• $920,000 to replace main engine-driven generator-inverter combinations on five passenger locomotives for BNSF Service; and
• $368,000 to incorporate automatic engine shut-down/start-up technology on 24 locomotives for Union Pacific Service (North, Northwest and West lines).

Durbin also announced that the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission will receive a $160,000 grant to study the feasibility of establishing passenger-rail service from Bloomington-Normal — which currently is served by Amtrak via Chicago-to-St. Louis service — to Peoria, Ill. The Normal Amtrak station is the state’s busiest outside of Chicago and a considerable amount of the stop’s ridership comes from the Peoria area, said Durbin in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced the city of Dubuque, Iowa, will receive an $8 million grant from the USDOT to help fund the construction of an intermodal facility to serve the Millworks and Ice Harbor area. The Dubuque Intermodal Transportation Center will serve as a hub for numerous transportation modes, including Amtrak trains, intercity buses, taxis and trolleys.

Also, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) announced the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments will receive a $2 million USDOT grant to study a potential 7.5-mile extension of the Woodward Avenue light-rail project’s first phase from Detroit to Birmingham. The line currently is planned to run 9.3 miles along Woodward Avenue from downtown Detroit to the Michigan State Fairgrounds on Eight Mile Road.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/14/2011