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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced $1.8 million in grant awards to expand freight-rail opportunities as part of the Industrial Rail Access Program.The program is a competitive state-funded public-private partnership that provides financial assistance to eligible applicants to invest in projects that improve access to industry-based rail infrastructure. State funding for the five projects will be matched by more than $2.4 million in private funds, MassDOT officials said July 9 in a blog post on the agency's website.The initial 2018 projects and individual grant amounts are:• Western Recycling rail-spur project, $500,000. The project calls for an existing solid waste handling facility in Wilbraham to load outbound waste into rail cars for shipment to out-of-state landfills. With restoration of rail service to the site, the facility will start processing municipal waste in addition to construction and demolition debris. The project includes construction of one loading track and five storage tracks for a total of 6,000 feet of new track. When completed, the facility will be served by more than 1,500 rail cars annually.• Middlesex Corp. concrete plant siding restoration, $500,000. The project will enable Middlesex's concrete batching plant in Littleton to receive sand and stone by rail instead of truck. Work will include construction of 2,385 feet of new track and two new rail switches. Restoring siding to the property will allow for the delivery of 1,600 rail cars annually.• Patriot Beverage/Injection Molding Enterprise siding extension project, $500,000. The project will support restoration of a bottling facility and improve operations at a co-located manufacturing facility in Littleton. Work entails restoration and extension of an existing rail siding, which will be used for delivery of inbound raw materials for the manufacturing of plastic containers and consumer beverages. Once completed, the project will allow for the delivery of 330 rail cars each year.• Rousselot Gelatin rail extension, $221,640. The project is designed to improve rail operations at the gelatin manufacturing facility in Peabody, which will allow for an increase in the volume of rail deliveries and the associated reduction in product delivered by truck. The project also will allow for more product to be stored on site, which will minimize the risk of plant shutdown during storm events.• Grafton and Upton Railroad Bulk Liquid Transloading rail-yard expansion, $133,045. The expansion will help support an increase in rail volume at the facility in Upton. Work will include construction of two tracks that will allow for the delivery and storage of paraffin wax to the Grafton and Upton Railroad. The project is anticipated to increase annual rail volumes by 250 rail cars.
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