FRA Issues $302M in State of Good Repair Rail Grants

The Federal Railroad Administration disbursed $302.6 million in grants via its State of Good Repair Program to fund 12 projects in nine states.

[Above photo via Wikimedia Commons.]

The FRA noted this program funds capital projects to repair, replace, or rehabilitate publicly- or Amtrak-owned or -controlled railroad assets, to reduce the state of good repair backlog and improve intercity passenger rail performance.

Eligible projects include upgrading infrastructure such as track, switches, bridges, passenger stations, and highway-rail grade crossings; and equipment, including passenger cars.

FRA’s Ronald Batory

“This funding will go a long way in addressing passenger rail capital project needs in communities around the country,” said Ronald Batory, FRA administrator, in a statement – adding that fiscal year 2019 program selections total approximately $302.6 million of the $396 million made available for grants under the 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

The FRA noted it will make the remaining $93.4 million available via a Notice of Funding Opportunity for FY 2020 program funds.

Five projects receiving grants via this round of FRA “good repair” funding involve state departments of transportation, including:

  • An up to $80 million award to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to purchase six locomotives and 13 passenger coaches to replace existing state-owned equipment that are 30- and 50-years old, respectively, for Amtrak’s Piedmont service between Charlotte and Raleigh. This project is the second phase of agency’s equipment procurement program, building upon a previous “good repair” program award to procure passenger coaches in support of this line’s continued growth, including a fourth daily Piedmont round trip planned for 2023.
  • A $29.9 million award to the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Amtrak to replace the existing movable Norwalk River Bridge, built in 1896, with two independent two-track vertical lift rail bridges. This project – identified as a regional priority in the Northeast Corridor Commission’s five-year capital plan – also includes associated improvements to the embankments and retaining walls on the bridge approaches, new catenary structures, and signal system upgrades. The existing bridge is beyond its useful life and is prone to malfunctions, especially when opening or closing.
  • An $8 million award to Amtrak, the Maryland Department of Transportation, and Maryland Transportation Authority to rehabilitate and upgrade a five-mile section of the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor mainline near Baltimore. This project – included in the Northeast Corridor Commission’s five-year capital plan as a regional priority – will also restore rail speeds to 90 mph from 60 mph. The project will also enable service to be maintained while tracks are taken out of service to allow critical repairs take place in the B&P tunnel.
  • A more than $6.5 million award to the Michigan Department of Transportation to rehabilitate and upgrade signal and track infrastructure on the state-owned Kalamazoo-Dearborn corridor, used by Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services as well as multiple freight operators. The work includes signal and grade crossing component rehabilitation, including replacing switch machines, switch heaters, backup power generators, and 26 gate crossing mechanisms at 18 crossings along the line.
  • A more than $8.3 million award to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to rehabilitate and upgrade 10 miles of railroad track from Glen to Thorn Interlocking in Chester County on the Amtrak-owned Harrisburg Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg – eliminating a choke point, enhancing rail capacity and reliability, while also improving operational safety and flexibility.
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