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[Editor's note: Story was updated at 4:40 p.m. CDT.]
U.S. lawmakers and state leaders yesterday began to announce Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VII grant awards that they learned will be coming their way from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).Grant awards revealed so far will go to rail projects in Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin, according to press releases issued by government officials in those states.The projects and TIGER grant amounts include:• $15.2 million for upgrades and expansion of Amtrak's Southwest Chief route in Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas. • $20 million for the Maine Railways Project, which features new rail, ties, surfacing and upgraded road crossings and signal systems on railroad mainlines across the state of Maine.• $18 million to Buffalo, N.Y., to rebuild the Lower Main Street segment of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's Metro Rail service.• $16 million to New Jersey Transit toward replacement of the century-old Portal Bridge, which is currently considered a commuter-rail chokepoint in the Northeast Corridor.• $15 million for the Tacoma, Wash., LINK Expansion to more than double the current length of downtown Tacoma's existing streetcar line. The project also will add several stations with improved bicycle and pedestrian access.• $14.2 million for construction of the Streetcar Lakefront Line in Milwaukee.• $10 million to build the Barnum Station, a new commuter-rail station that will serve MTA Metro-North Railroad riders in Bridgeport, Conn.• $10 million to build a new rail yard, called Glacier Rail Park, and construct a pedestrian trail in Kalispell, Mont.• $6 million for two rail projects in South Dakota: one to fund a new track siding near Philip; and the other for track upgrades near Huron.The TIGER program was established in 2009 to provide federal assistance for vital transportation projects.