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The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will award more than $31 million for seven freight-rail improvement projects in the state, Gov. Scott Walker announced yesterday.Of that total, WisDOT will distribute more than $24 million through the Freight Railroad Preservation Program (FRPP). Grants issued under the program cover up to 80 percent of project costs to help preserve freight-rail service or rehabilitate track on publicly-owned rail lines, WisDOT officials said in a press release.WisDOT will provide the remaining $7 million through the state's Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program (FRIIP), which is a revolving loan program used to improve rail infrastructure and construct new rail-served facilities. The grants and loans are aimed at increasing the use of rail transportation and supporting economic development and job creation, WisDOT officials said.Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Co. (WSOR) is one of the recipients. The short-line railroad will receive awards for four projects:• a $2.5 million FRPP grant and a $318,000 FRIIP loan to replace existing 85- and 90-pound rail with 115-pound continuously welded rail on 2.4 miles of track in Prairie du Chien;• an FRPP grant worth nearly $3 million and a $372,300 FRIIP loan to replace ties and perform resurfacing on 45.5 miles of track between Avoca and Crawford;• an $8 million FRPP grant and $1 million FRIIP loan to implement the second phase of a multi-year project to rehabilitate 41.25 miles of track between Waukesha and Milton; and• a $10 million FRPP grant and a $1.3 million FRIIP loan to replace several of the spans on a bridge located near Spring Green.The city of New London will receive a $384,000 FRPP grant to rehabilitate a city-owned industrial spur that is connected to a CN branch line in Outagamie County. That project calls for replacing 1,100 ties and adding 900 tons of ballast to 1 mile of track. Reactivating the spur track will allow Granite Valley Forest Products to ship hardwood logs by rail instead of by truck, according to WisDOT.Additionally, the Rio Creek Feed Mill will receive a $1.5 million loan to construct a grain bin, dryer and conveying equipment at its Luxemburg facility, while the Country Visions Co-Op will receive a $2.65 million FRIIP loan to construct two rail spurs and a 9,000-ton dry fertilizer plant in Valders. Both facilities are on CN-served rail lines.