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The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) will provide a $1 million grant to the Montana Department of Transportation and Central Montana Rail Inc. (CMR) to help fund repairs to the Judith River trestle bridge, Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank announced yesterday.The 100-year-old bridge was severely damaged by flooding in 2011. Repair work will include rebuilding concrete pier foundations, restoring steel towers and bridge girders, and implementing protection measures to prevent similar damage from future river floods. In addition, upgrades will be completed on CMR's line to improve its load-carrying capacity.The single-track bridge provides the only cost-effective means of shipping agricultural products from numerous small communities, Montana officials said in a press release. Reopening the rail line will help more than 1,900 agricultural production businesses located in the three-county area of central Montana remain competitive, they said."CMR's 84 miles of railroad are incredibly important to the heart of Montana. They support good jobs, provide vital competition in rail transportation, and give producers and other businesses in the Denton area a viable shipping option," said Montana Governor Steve Bullock.The $1 million EDA grant will be combined with $3 million in state dollars to fund the project. The EDA grant is part of a $200 million congressional appropriation aimed at helping communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal-year 2011.
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