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Rail News: High-Speed Rail
USDOT approves $149.3 million grant award to New York state for Empire Corridor work
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced it has obligated $149.3 million in high-speed and intercity passenger-rail funds to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to upgrade the Empire Corridor. The improvements are expected to increase capacity, improve reliability and reduce travel time on several Amtrak routes, including the Empire service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express.
Under a $91.2 million grant, NYSDOT will add a 17-mile second mainline track between the Albany-Rensselaer and Schenectady stations. Trains currently wait up to 26 minutes on the existing single-track line for the rail line to clear when another train is traveling in the opposite direction, according to USDOT.
The project includes: reconstructing four interlockings and installing two new ones; relocating switches; improving the existing signal system and installing new signals along the second track; trenching or burying signal and power wires; restoring the existing track to a state of good repair; repairing or rehabilitating 16 bridges; potentially replacing one bridge and repairing a culvert; upgrading surfaces at three crossings; and installing four-quadrant gates at the crossings, according to a press release issued by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y). Construction is expected to begin in late summer 2012.
NYSDOT will use a $58.1 million grant to fund track and platform improvements at the Albany-Rensselaer and Schenectady stations, as well as a signal wire relocation on the Hudson Line. The improvements will result in greater reliability and on-time performance, more flexibility in train schedules and reduced congestion between freight and passenger trains, according to USDOT.
NYSDOT currently is overseeing final design for the fourth station track at Albany-Rensselaer Station using a previously awarded high-speed rail grant, according to Schumer. The Federal Railroad Administration has approved a conceptual operating plan and preliminary track layout, and a conceptual construction staging plan has been submitted to the FRA and other project stakeholders for review and approval.
Construction on both stations is scheduled to begin in late summer 2012.
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