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The state of Connecticut will provide more than $8 million in Rail Freight Infrastructure Program funding to one regional and three short lines to help them improve and modernize infrastructure, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced on Friday.The projects involve repairs and upgrades to rail lines, beds, grade crossings, culverts and related rail facilities. Each year, railroads move 8.5 million tons of freight through Connecticut on more than 625 miles of track."Improving our freight-rail infrastructure is a critical component of strengthening Connecticut's economy," said Malloy in a press release. "These improvements will allow more freight to be moved safely at higher speeds, while at the same time ease highway gridlock and reduce air pollution."The state will provide:• $3.58 million to the New England Central Railroad to upgrade its mainline between New London and the Connecticut/Massachusetts state line to accommodate 286,000-pound rail cars, such as by upgrading switches, repairing the Norwich Tunnel and rehabilitating nine crossings;• $2.46 million to the Central New England Railroad Co. Inc. to improve track and crossing infrastructure — including surfacing work and new crossing warning devices — between Hartford and Bloomfield on the state-owned Griffin Line;• $1.65 million to Naugatuck Railroad to replace ties and worn rails, and improve a crossing on the state-owned Torrington Line between Waterbury and Torrington; and• $759,395 to Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. to rehabilitate 26 miles of the Norwich Branch Line between Plainfield and the Massachusetts state line, including new ties, spikes and ballast.