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By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor
Last month, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced the nearly four dozen recipients of more than $326 million in grant funding under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) and Special Transportation Circumstances (STC) programs.
Forty-five projects in 29 states received grants. The programs help fund state and local infrastructure projects designed to improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of intercity passenger- and freight-rail systems. Grant applicants included state departments of transportation, municipalities, port authorities, rail commissions, Amtrak and short lines. “The participation of multiple partners demonstrates the importance of these funds and tells us they will be a key asset in improving safety for communities and railroads around the country,” said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory in a press release.
The $326 million includes more than $2 million in STC grant funds issued to the state of Alaska, which will be used by Alaska Railroad Corp. to purchase 10 new general service flat cars and install or convert 480/240-volt electric power capabilities on flat cars to allow temperature control on trailer-hauled freight.
Among the CRISI grants, more than one-third of the total dollars were awarded to projects planned by regionals and short lines. Individual grant awards and projects include: • $28.8 million for the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis to rehab its MacArthur Bridge over the Mississippi River to accommodate heavier rail cars; • $17.5 million to modernize 37 miles of mainline track on the Pan Am Railways in central Maine; • $17.4 million for Sierra Northern Railway to rehab 55 miles of track from Riverbank to Central Valley to Standard, California; • $10.2 million to complete preliminary engineering, federal environmental review, final design and construction of a roadway overpass to grade separate a crossing on the Norfolk and Portsmouth Beltline Railroad in Chesapeake, Virginia; • $8.8 million for Lancaster and Chester Railroad LLC to add three new locomotives, rehab the Catawba River rail bridge and upgrade 46 miles of track in South Carolina; • $8.7 million to replace 30 miles of rail and upgrade crossings and signals on Lake State Railway Co.’s network in north-central Michigan; • $8.2 million for Nebraska Central Railroad Co. to improve 30 timber bridges, replace five timber bridges with steel beam span or rail girder bridges, and replace degraded rail and defective ties along its 320-mile system in northeastern and northcentral Nebraska; • $7.2 million for the Indiana Rail Road Co. to replace nine timber rail bridges with concrete ones; • $5.6 million for Lake County Railroad to rehab 55 miles of track between Northern California and southcentral Oregon; • $4 million to complete track, bridge, tie and surfacing improvements on Georgia Central Railway to accommodate 286,000-pound rail cars and allow for a speed increase on its mainline; • $3.5 million for Montana Rail Link Inc. to complete preliminary engineering, federal environmental review and final design for positive train control; • $2.8 million for the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad to upgrade 7.5 miles of track; and • $2.6 million to upgrade 13 timber rail bridges, convert 5.45 miles of 85-pound rail to 115-pound rail and replace 11,000 ties on the Georgia Southwestern Railroad to support heavier cars moving at a faster speed.