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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

BUILD grants pegged for additional rail-related projects

The Oklahoma port will use the BUILD grant to upgrade its rail system.
Photo – Port of Muskogee


Federal officials have announced additional Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants over the past few days. The funds target both rail and intermodal connectivity improvements.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced the Ohio Rail Development Commission will receive a $20 million BUILD grant for a rail transloading project in Hannibal, Ohio.

The commission plans to construct a rail yard and pipeline facility to increase the Long Ridge Energy Terminal's capacity and connect it to existing rail infrastructure. The pipeline-to-rail transloading facility will include truck racks with unloading bays, ladder tracks connecting to a recently constructed loop track and rail loading arms.

The project will provide the area's energy exports — including natural gas — better access to global markets, Brown said in a press release.

Further east, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) announced the Port of Virginia will obtain a $15.5 million BUILD grant to increase terminal capacity at the Virginia Inland Port (VIP) in Front Royal.

The funding will be used to help optimize the flow of traffic inside the port gate by adding three long loading tracks, lengthening the existing loading tracks, purchasing two hybrid straddle carriers and constructing a new grade separation, the senators said in a press release.

The work is designed to increase capacity at the VIP — which is served by Norfolk Southern Railway — and help the inland port more safely handle the largest ships in the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the democratic contingent of U.S. congresspeople from Massachusetts — Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Reps. Richard Neal and Jim McGovern — announced the New England Central Railroad (NECR) will receive a $10.8 million BUILD grant to upgrade its mainline through western Massachusetts.

Owned by Genesee & Wyoming Inc., NECR will replace 31 miles of rail and 20,000 ties, and strengthen 20 bridges on the mainline. The grant will be combined with $9.6 million in state funding through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and $9.6 million from NECR.

"The grant will help fund much needed improvements to allow the railroad to handle modern, heavier freight cars," said NECR President Len Wagner in a press release.

In South Carolina, Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott announced the South Carolina Ports Authority will receive a $25 million BUILD grant for projects at Inland Port Greer (IPG) and the Port of Charleston.

The authority plans to increase capacity at the IPG to ensure sufficient staging, container lift and storage space for manufacturers and freight shippers. The project also would extend an NS passing siding to accommodate longer trains traveling between the IPG and Charleston port

The improvements will advance the region’s manufacturing industry by increasing shipping capacity and efficiency, the senators said in a press release.

And in Oklahoma, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced the Port of Muskogee will receive a $5.7 million BUILD grant to upgrade its rail system.

Union Pacific Railroad’s access now is limited to four-axle locomotives because the arc of the tracks entering the port is too narrow. Since six-axle locomotives have become the rail industry standard, the four-axle units are being phased out.

"Modern rail access for manifest and unit-train service will ensure the continued growth and success of the port for years to come," said Scott Robinson, the Port of Muskogee's director, in a press release. "This grant will also allow the port to retain its manufacturing and logistics base, support local industry expansion and attract new industry."

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) created the BUILD program earlier this year to replace the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant program that was introduced in 2009. In April, the USDOT published a notice of funding opportunity for $1.5 billion in 2018 BUILD discretionary grants.

Dozens of other BUILD grants were announced late last week by politicians, government agencies and organizations, including allocations for these other rail-related projects. And the USDOT has announced the full list of recipients.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/11/2018