The State Transportation Commission for Pennsylvania recently voted to approve $42.5 million in state funding for 25 freight rail improvement projects – funding coming from the state’s Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP).
[Above photo by PennDOT]
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will oversee those projects, which dovetail with the state’s effort to expand passenger rail service, especially along the Keystone West corridor between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
“Expanding Pennsylvania’s rail freight network will support family-sustaining jobs and connect Pennsylvania communities to the global economy while bolstering local economic development,” said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll in a statement.
“This is a historic moment to build out our infrastructure thanks to state and federal funding that will create opportunities for generations of Pennsylvanians to come – and the expansion of Pennsylvania’s efficient rail freight network and service will provide key mobility throughout 23 counties across the Commonwealth,” he added.
Pennsylvania has 65 operating railroads and Carroll noted that PennDOT is “committed” to working with private rail operators and rail-served businesses to construct new rail lines and assist in maintaining and improving Pennsylvania’s roughly 5,600 miles of freight lines.
The freight rail funding allotment by Pennsylvania comes on the heels of $8.2 billion in grants awarded by the Federal Railroad Administration to 10 passenger rail projects nationwide as well as for rail corridor planning activities in 44 states as well.
According to a statement, the FRA said that $8.2 billion is flowing through two distinct discretionary grant programs created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA: the Federal State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail program and the Corridor Identification and Development or Corridor ID program.
PennDOT is getting $500,000 from FRA as part of those grants to research a corridor connecting Scranton, PA, and New York City, with intermediate stops at Stroudsburg and Mt. Pocono, PA and Blairstown, Dover, Montclair, Morristown, and Newark, NJ.
That proposed corridor would provide three new daily round trips on a mostly existing alignment, while rebuilding abandoned track to accommodate that new service.