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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) recently announced nine recipients of this year's Industrial Rail Access Program (IRAP) funding awards. The recipients, which will receive a total of $2.85 million in grants, will provide matching funds for their freight-rail projects.Created by a 2012 transportation bond bill, IRAP provides grants to railroads, rail shippers and municipalities that identify a public benefit gained through improved rail transportation usage or economic growth that would be realized through improved access to rail assets."As part of the Massachusetts State Rail Plan, we are focused on increasing access for freight-rail service to support regional economic growth," said Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray in a press release. "By investing in these projects, we are upgrading the commonwealth's freight-rail network, which will not only attract new business and jobs, but also promote a more efficient transportation of goods and services."Through IRAP, MassDOT will provide:• $500,000 to the New England Central Railroad (NECR) for a $1.5 million project to improve main track in Amherst where two derailments occurred nearby in 2011;• $500,000 to Sherwood Lumber, a NECR customer, for a $1.7 million project to construct a rail siding and complete loading dock and laydown area improvements;• $427,500 to Church Street L.L.C. and Frade's Disposal for a $712,500 project to add a 3,000-foot rail siding on Mass Coastal Railroad's line in New Bedford, as well as install a switch and construct a rail-served loading dock;• $342,000 to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority/Fore River Railroad Corp. for a $574,244 project to replace a rail bridge with a culvert on the railroad's line in Braintree;• $313,214 to the Providence & Worcester Railroad Co. for a $522,023 project to replace two bridges in Worcester;• $309,900 to the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority for a $559,859 project to rehabilitate and reconnect a rail siding into the Fitchburg Industrial Park;• $221,700 to the Grafton & Upton Railroad for a $552,000 project to improve Hopedale yard by constructing a switching lead and several sidings;• $167,040 to Covanta SEMASS L.P. for a $278,400 project to install a switch on a Mass Coastal Railroad line and approximately 400 feet of track into an existing truck load out bay; and• $65,889 to Maritime Terminal for a $109,816 project to rehabilitate an existing rail spur on a Mass Coastal Railroad line and a warehouse loading dock.