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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker last week approved more than $24 million in grants and loans to help fund six freight-rail projects.The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will provide more than $20.3 million in grants through the Freight Railroad Preservation Program (FRPP), which covers up to 80 percent of the cost for projects designed to preserve freight-rail service or rehabilitate track on publicly owned rail lines.WisDOT also is awarding $3.8 million in loans through the Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program (FRIIP), a revolving loan program that provides funding for rail infrastructure projects and new rail-served facilities. Since 1993, the department has provided more than $221 million in FRPP grants and more than $123 million in FRIIP loans.The Port of Milwaukee will receive a $1.5 million FRPP grant for the reconstruction of the Lake Classification Rail Yard on Jones Island that's served by Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad. The proceeds will be used to improve deteriorated tracks. A number of companies want to ship products via rail, but can't because of the poor condition of the yard tracks, WisDOT officials said in a press release.Farm City Elevator Inc. will receive a $1.5 million FRIIP loan to construct an additional 765,000-bushel grain storage bin at a facility previously owned by Zenda Grain L.L.C. in Zenda. The facility is located on a Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Co. (WSOR) line on right of way owned by the state and Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission.WisDOT also will award the following FRPP grants and FRIIP loans to WSOR:• an $8.8 million FRPP grant and a $1.1 million FRIIP loan to rehabilitate and reconstruct 50 bridges in 10 subdivisions that have been identified by engineering studies as requiring repairs;• a $4.4 million FRPP grant and a $561,141 FRIIP loan to surface track, replace 47,800 ties and renew 26 crossings on a Madison-to-Watertown line owned by WisDOT and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission;• a $4.1 million FRPP grant and a $514,520 FRIIP loan to replace 4,000 ties, five public grade crossings and six turnout switches, install 4,00 tons of ballast and surface 7.2 miles of continuous-welded rail on a Fairwater-to-Markesan line owned by the state and East Wisconsin Counties Railroad Consortium; and• a $1.4 million FRPP grant and a $180,000 FRIIP loan to begin the first phase of a multi-year project to rehabilitate 41.25 miles of track on a Waukesha-to-Milton line owned by WisDOT and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission. The first year of the project includes the renewal of 15 crossings.
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