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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has awarded five grants totaling more than $2 million for freight-rail projects as part of the 2015 Industrial Rail Access Program (IRAP).The grants will be matched by more than $1.7 million in private-sector funds for a total $3.7 million investment in freight-rail improvements, MassDOT officials said in a press release.MassDOT uses the IRAP — which was created as part of the state's 2012 transportation bond bill — to provide grants to railroads, rail shippers and municipalities that identify a public benefit that could be gained through improved rail transportation usage or economic growth that would be realized through improved rail access."The IRAP program is an example of government working with the private sector to solve a problem. We are glad to have the opportunity to improve rail access and support industrial uses," said Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack.MassDOT awarded:• $500,000 to Pan Am Railways to expand a siding and improve an unloading area in Ayer;• $500,000 to Fore River Railroad Corp. for a mainline realignment/capacity improvement and shipyard improvement project in Quincy;• $455,691 to the Providence & Worcester Railroad Co. for a Southbridge Street Yard wye track project in Worcester;• $383,910 to Massachusetts Coastal Railroad for a siding rehabilitation/expansion and unloading dock improvement project in Fall River; and• $175,045 to Pioneer Valley Railroad to install a siding at Railroad Distribution Services' facility in Westfield.Meanwhile, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is soliciting applications for $17 million in rail and port facility improvement grants through the state's Passenger and Freight Rail Assistance Program.The $17 million will help fund projects aimed at track rehabilitation, railroad bridge repairs, improved emissions, expanded capacity and economic development opportunities."This funding will help increase freight capacity on our railroads and ports, and remove trucks from our highways, leading to a more energy efficient transportation system and reducing air pollution," said NYSDOT Commissioner Matthew Driscoll in a press release.Applications are due Aug. 27. Railroad operators, industrial development agencies, state and local government agencies, and other authorities are eligible to apply.
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