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By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor
When the Federal Railroad Administration in June announced the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program (CRISI) grants totaling $368 million for fiscal-year 2021, about a third of the funds were designated for passenger-rail projects.
Those projects are designed to expand, improve or prepare for passenger- and high-speed rail service. They range from an expansion of existing rail service to construction of train stations to the creation of training or apprenticeship programs.
The FY21 round of CRISI grants is one of the largest ever, according to the FRA. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed by President Joe Biden in fall 2021, nearly tripled funding for CRISI to $1 billion annually for the next five years.
About $87.6 million in FY21 grant funds are designated for projects that support the development of new intercity passenger-rail service.
“These awards will allow the FRA to support rail projects that lay the groundwork for future economic growth,” FRA Administrator Amit Bose said in a press release.
Passenger-rail related projects and their grant amounts include:
• Raleigh-to-Richmond (R2R) Corridor Program, $57.9 million, to perform surveys and complete preliminary engineering for improvements between Raleigh, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia. The project — which includes the construction of a grade separation on the S-Line in Wake Forest, North Carolina — will advance to the next phase of the R2R corridor development that eventually will result in a new intercity passenger-rail service;
• Brightline Trains Florida LLC, $15.9 million, to advance preliminary engineering activities for the proposed 67-mile extension of a high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa, Florida;
• New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Program, $13.9 million, for the environmental review, preliminary engineering, final design and construction of a new station to accommodate increased service in Connecticut;
• Pacific Northwest High-Speed Rail Corridor, $10 million, to complete preliminary engineering and an environmental review for track and signal improvements to increase passenger- and freight-rail capacity, including double tracking and other track and signal improvements in the corridor between Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont, Washington;
• Amtrak Apprenticeship, $8 million, for a three-year mechanical craft workforce development training program for current and future Amtrak employees;
• Pacific Surfliner Bridge replacement project, $8 million, to replace a 100-year-old timber bridge located along a double-track segment of California’s Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail corridor with a new concrete structure built above a flood zone;
• Virginia Passenger Rail Authority, $6.4 million, to improve a train station in Ettrick, Virginia, which will support development of new intercity passenger-rail service; and
• Springfield Union Station, $1.75 million, to develop preliminary engineering and environmental clearance for track, signal and infrastructure improvements around the Massachusetts station.