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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

FRA OKs 11 rail grants; Ohio rail commission approves six grants


Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced plans to issue 11 rail research and infrastructure improvement grants, while the Ohio Rail Development Commission approved six grants for rail infrastructure upgrades.

The FRA will provide a $4.3 million grant to the city of Vicksburg, Miss., to improve a highway bridge over Kansas City Southern Railway Co. tracks. The project calls for constructing a tunnel for KCS trains, removing the existing highway bridge and building an at-grade roadway. The city is contributing $1 million and KCSR, $500,000 for the project.

The FRA also is awarding two grants totaling more than $3.7 million to the New England Central Railroad (NECR). The short line will receive $2.75 million to install equipment to automate a swing bridge over the Richelieu River near East Alburg, Vt. NECR will contribute $686,560 in matching funds. The short line also will receive $960,000 to complete structural repairs on an 1860s-vintage rail tunnel in Burlington, Vt. The project calls for removing old brick, installing tunnel liner and improving drainage to extend the tunnel's life up to 20 years. NECR will provide $240,000 in matching funds.

The Washington Department of Transportation is receiving two FRA grants, too: one for $990,000 to support an ongoing state program through which 30 refrigerated rail cars are leased to agricultural producers and one for $754,600 for various infrastructure improvements at city of Tacoma-owned Tacoma Rail. The short line will use proceeds to inspect and repair three rail bridges and two grade crossings, and replace ties along a 16-mile section of track.

The FRA also is providing two grants totaling more than $1.5 million to the Portland & Western Railroad (PNWR) to rehabilitate a siding and improve several crossings, and continue replacing a one-half-mile-long wooden bridge approach to an existing steel bridge over the Willamette River near Albany, Ore. PNWR is providing more than $370,000 in matching funds for the projects.

In addition, the FRA will provide:
• $490,000 to the Illinois Commerce Commission to continue the Public Education and Enforcement Research Study to improve grade crossing safety;
• $286,650 to Marshall University to, in conjunction with CSX Transportation, demonstrate and test the integration of different track inspection technologies on a mobile platform or hi-rail vehicle to assist rail inspectors in identifying track flaws;
• $250,000 to the National Research Council of Canada to continue ongoing cooperative research into the interaction between locomotive and rail-car wheels and track;
• $245,000 to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad to replace a wood pile bridge between Karns City and Bruin, Pa., with a new concrete box culvert;
• $191,000 to West Virginia University to continue researching upgrades or rehabilitation methods for deteriorated wooden crossties with thermoplastic reinforcements;
• $100,000 to the American Association of Suicidology to determine the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the rail industry and identify best practices for the treatment of the disorder among locomotive engineers and other train crew members following traumatic events; and
• $50,000 to Norfolk Southern Railway to support the Class I's effort to design a prototype battery-powered electric locomotive designed to reduce emissions and lower fuel costs (NS is providing $65,000 for the project).

The FRA also is beginning to accept applications for $14.9 million available in capital grants under the new Rail Line Relocation and Improvement Program. To be eligible for grant funding, a project must mitigate the adverse effects of rail traffic on safety, motor vehicle traffic flow, a community's quality of life, or involve a lateral or vertical relocation of any portion of a rail line. Applications will be accepted until on or about Nov. 28.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) approved a grant and loan package totaling $600,000 for the West Central Ohio Port Authority to rehabilitate 10 miles of track.

The ORDC also granted:
• up to $225,000 to the Maumee & Western Railroad to rehabilitate track and a yard in Defiance;
• $163,070 to RJ Corman Railroad for bridge and track improvements in western Ohio;
• $100,000 to Camp Chase Railroad to continue improving track to preserve unit-train service for a grain elevator and development sites along the line;
• $50,000 to Ashland Railroad to repair a bridge deck; and
• $25,000 to Ohi-Rail to complete bridge repairs on a line between Minerva and Amsterdam.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/15/2008