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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

TIGER III grants to help fund rail projects in four states


Yesterday, U.S. Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) announced the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) awarded a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery III (TIGER III) grant to help fund upgrades to a rail line near Devils Lake, N.D.

The federal dollars will be added to funding the congressional delegation secured from Amtrak and BNSF Railway Co. to help cover the project’s cost.

“Each has put up $32.5 million and with the $10 million grant … we have $75 million toward the project,” the politicians said in a joint statement. “We will continue to work with the state and our partners to raise the balance.”

The delegation had sought a TIGER III grant to rebuild a 20-mile segment of track and two bridges near Churchs Ferry, N.D. The track, which was closed several times in spring because of flooding, is used by BNSF and Amtrak Empire Builder trains. In April, Amtrak and the North Dakota Department of Transportation released a report that estimated the cost to raise the track and bridges, and perform other upgrades near Devils Lake would total about $97.4 million.

Meanwhile, Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) announced the USDOT awarded an $18.5 million TIGER III grant to support the Delaware River Rail/Port Improvement project.

Through a public-private partnership, the South Jersey Port Corp., county of Salem and Conrail will use the grant proceeds and tens of millions of private dollars to renew ports in Salem and Paulsboro, help finance improvements to Camden Port, upgrade the rail network that serves the port facilities, and improve the DelAir bridge that links New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“This critical federal investment will create jobs, strengthen major commercial corridors in South Jersey and improve our state’s economy,” said Lautenberg in a prepared statement.

In Montana, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced the city of Shelby will receive a $10 million TIGER III grant for work associated with an intermodal hub.

Grant proceeds will help fund a project’s third phase, which calls for completing a missing freight-rail link between the state of Montana and all ports served by BNSF on the West Coast and in the Great Lakes area. The grant dollars will fund the construction of 10,860 lineal feet of track to support BNSF's intermodal trains, as well as an access road to the facility and 20-acre laydown yard to stage oversized equipment. Federal funds will be combined with a 42 percent non-federal match to complete an existing inland port.

“This is exactly the kind of smart investment we need to get folks back to work and our push our economy forward,” said Baucus in a prepared statement. “The intermodal hub is a perfect example of local ingenuity and public-private partnerships working together to create jobs.”

Finally, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the city of Buffalo, N.Y., will receive a $15 million TIGER III grant for the Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project, part of which calls for revamping aging Metro Rail facilities.

Twenty-five years ago, automobile access was eliminated from downtown Buffalo when the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority built the Metro Rail system. Closing the premier downtown street to automobiles has resulted in vacancy, lost property and reduced tax value, and has hampered the ability to attract new businesses and employers to the area, said Schumer in a prepared statement.

“Opening up Buffalo’s Main Street to vehicular traffic and improving aging Metro Rail facilities will be a major economic boost for the downtown, and will pave the way for increased business and economic activity in the area,” he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/14/2011