Governor Tony Evers (D) and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation recently announced the award of nearly $8 million in grants and loans for five railroad improvement projects statewide.
[Above photo by the Wisconsin DOT]
The grants are from the state’s Freight Railroad Preservation Program, which contributes up to 80 percent of project costs to help preserve freight rail service or rehabilitate track on publicly owned rail lines.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program is a revolving loan program used to improve rail infrastructure and construct new rail-served facilities.
Altogether, the five projects supported by the combination of grants and loans issued by Wisconsin’s state government will lengthen rail spurs, install conveyance equipment, and increase storage capacity at Wisconsin-based facilities to support the rail freight industry.
“Wisconsin’s economy relies on a robust network of roads, ports, and railways, and investing in our state’s transportation infrastructure, including our freight rail network, is a positive investment for the future of industry, our economy, and our entire state,” the governor noted in a statement.
“This round of grants will bolster how the state’s agriculture and paper industries move products from point A to B, supporting industry growth and success across the state,” Gov. Evers said.
“The movement of products and commodities is the lifeblood of our economy, affecting nearly every aspect of our lives,” added Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson.
“Strategic investments that improve connectivity and efficiency of freight rail have a big impact on urban and rural communities all across the state,” he pointed out.
State departments of transportation across the country provide a variety of support, fiscal and otherwise, to both the freight and passenger rail industries in their respective areas.
In September, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation issued seven grants totaling over $3 million via the state’s Industrial Rail Access Program or IRAP.
That program is a competitive state-funded public/private partnership program that provides financial assistance to eligible applicants to invest in industry-based railroad infrastructure access improvement projects. Grant recipients must match public grant funds with private funds totaling at least 40 percent of a project’s total cost, the agency said.
In May, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Minnesota Department of Transportation issued millions in grant funding to support a variety of railroad infrastructure projects, primarily to meet freight transport needs.
In addition, in February, the New York State Department of Transportation provided $76.4 million to 38 projects aimed at renewing and modernizing New York’s freight rail infrastructure.