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The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) has tapped several companies to provide grant-writing expertise to member short lines.The expertise aims to aid short lines in writing grant applications for programs available from the U.S. Department of Transportation, ASLRRA officials said in a press release.Many of the grants — such as the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) and the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) discretionary grant programs — have recently been funded for fiscal-year 2018 and have a "very short window" for submitting applications, they said.BUILD is the grant program formerly known as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER.The FY18 transportation appropriations bill passed by Congress provided unprecedented funding levels, with $1.5 billion in BUILD and $592 million in CRISI grants compared with $500 million and $300 million, respectively, in FY17, according to ASLRRA President Linda Bauer Darr."Our new Preferred Provider Grant Writing Center will ensure that our members are well prepared to take advantage of these funding opportunities, which can be used to maintain safe track and grow services to customers or to meet the mandate to comply with PTC (positive train control)," said Darr.ASLRRA's inaugural preferred providers are Bergmann, HDR Inc. and R.L. Banks and Associates Inc.Association officials expect to add preferred providers over the next several weeks. Preferred providers have committed to providing service to ASLRRA members "at competitive pricing," association officials said.