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Rail News: Intermodal

Connecticut creates port authority; Rep. Cassidy criticizes TIGER grant program


Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy earlier this week signed legislation that forms the Connecticut Port Authority, which will serve as a 15-member, quasi-public agency to market and coordinate the development of the state's deep-water ports in New London, New Haven and Bridgeport.

The authority also will act as the lead agency in seeking federal and state funding for infrastructure improvements, such as dredging.

"Working off of the recommendations of our Deep Water Port Strategy Study, we are taking steps to support Connecticut’s maritime industries by strengthening the economic potential of our deep water resources," said Malloy in a press release. "With this new structure in place, a renewed focus at the state level and a comprehensive strategy that will be driven by the new port authority, I am more confident than ever that Connecticut's ports will be in a stronger position to attract more private investment and import and export business while also taking trucks off of our congested highways."

Coupled with the state's support of the New England Central Railroad's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to improve freight access at the New London port, the new authority is expected to help foster freight-rail improvements in Connecticut, state officials said. Last year, the state provided $8 million in grants for four freight-rail projects, including $3.6 million that will enable the New England Central to upgrade its mainline between New London and the Connecticut/Massachusetts state line to accommodate 286,000-pound rail cars.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) late last week stressed a need for greater transparency in the TIGER grant program.

The Government Office of Accountability (GAO) found numerous problems with how the grants are awarded and recommended that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation establish additional accountability measures for managing the program, including establishing clear procedures for addressing late applications and documenting an applicant’s evaluation, Cassidy said in a press release. The senator has introduced an amendment that would place funds appropriated for the grants on hold until the U.S. Department of Transportation implements the GAO's recommendations.

"Despite being a leader in exporting oil and gas, Louisiana hasn’t received a dime from TIGER grants in more than three years," said Cassidy. "TIGER grants … should be awarded based on America's infrastructure needs — not Washington politicians' wants."

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More News from 6/18/2014