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Wisconsin DOT provides grant, loans for four freight-rail projects


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday announced the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will provide grants and loans totaling nearly $11 million for four freight-rail improvement projects.

WisDOT will distribute $9.84 million in grants through the Freight Railroad Preservation Program (FRPP), which cover up to 80 percent of projects designed to preserve freight-rail service or rehabilitate track on publicly owned rail lines. The department also will allocate $1.12 million in loans through the Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program (FRIIP), a revolving loan program that provides funds to improve rail infrastructure and construct rail-served facilities.

The Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Co. (WSOR) will receive three grants and loans, including:
• a $5 million FRPP grant and $625,000 FRIIP loan for the first phase of a more than $11 million project that calls for rehabilitating state- and Wisconsin River Rail Commission-owned track through Janesville, including a track alignment and other upgrades near a former General Motors plant, to improve operational efficiency along a connection to the Chicago market. Another section of rail will also be upgraded between Walworth and Zenda;

• a $2.3 million FRPP grant and $286,673 FRIIP loan to reactivate a 10-mile rail corridor between McCoy Road in Fitchburg and West Netherwood Road in Oregon — which hasn't been operated since the 1990s — to serve a new Lycon Inc. ready-mix concrete facility being built in Oregon; and

• a $1.74 million FRPP grant and $218,040 FRIIP loan to construct an 8,000-foot siding from Milton Junction to Anderson in Rock County on a line owned by the state and rail commission. The project will improve operations at rail yards in Madison and Janesville, and address safety issues near Milton.

In addition, the city of Baraboo will receive an $800,000 FRPP grant to help cover a $1 million rail spur reconstruction project in the Madalon Industrial Park. Constructed in 1982, the line has deteriorated despite ongoing maintenance efforts, according to WisDOT. The project will improve reliability to the three industries and potentially attract new rail users, state officials said in a press release. The spur is served by WSOR, which operates on an adjoining line through a lease agreement with Union Pacific Railroad.

Additional FRPP grants and FRIIP loans might be awarded later this year, WisDOT officials said. Since 1993, the department has provided more than $165 million in grants and more than $119 million in loans.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/16/2013