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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rail projects in Virginia, Oregon to receive federal grants


Federal grant awards were announced yesterday for rail projects in Virginia and Oregon.

In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that the state's proposed Atlantic Gateway Project has been selected for a federal FASTLANE grant of $165 million.

The project is expected to enhance passenger- and freight-rail along the Interstate-95 corridor in northern Virginia; improve reliability and capacity on the East Coast rail network; and increase bus service, according to a press release issued by McAuliffe's office.

Combined resources for the project — including federal grant, private investment and public funding — total $1.4 billion to address some of the worst traffic bottlenecks on the I-95 corridor.

"Our administration worked with federal, state, local and private sector parties to submit a package of transportation improvements that will have far-reaching benefits for everyone who travels the commonwealth, whether by car, bus or train," said McAuliffe.

The FASTLANE competitive grant program was created last year as part of the five-year federal FAST Act.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Coos Bay Rail Line $11 million to rehabilitate nine crumbling tunnels along the rail link between Eugene and Coquille.

The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay submitted the grant application to help fund the rehabilitation of the century-old tunnels to bring them up to a good operating condition, according to a press release issued by DeFazio's office.

The line traverses nine tunnels over an 82-mile section between Coquille and Eugene. The tunnels' age, combined with environmental conditions of the Oregon coast and Coast Range Mountains, have caused deterioration and drainage problems in the tunnels and on the track. Safety concerns were cited as the primary reason the line was shut down in 2007.

"This funding will greatly improve the safety and reliability of train operations, result in a reduction in emissions and highway congestion as more cargo switches from truck to rail, and offer a long-term, low-cost option for shippers," said DeFazio.

The grant is part of the new Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program, which was created to fund projects that will boost economic growth and support the movement of freight. The grant program also was created as part of FAST Act legislation.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/6/2016