Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Gov. Peter Shumlin Monday announced a $10 million federal grant from the Department of Transportation to improve rail service along the state's Western Corridor. The improvements will remove the final hurdle for restoring passenger service between Rutland and Burlington.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders, Welch and Shumlin -- who have vigorously supported this rail investment program -- said: "Vermont's rail links were important to our past development, and rail service is an important ingredient in our transportation future. There is an overwhelming need here and across the country to improve our infrastructure for the 21st Century. We are glad that this grant will make those upgrades to the rail line along the Western Corridor to drive our economy forward. This investment is a win-win scenario for improving both freight and passenger service."
The grant will be matched by state funds for the Western Vermont Freight-Passenger Rail Project. The project will improve service on the state-owned rail line between Rutland and Burlington by replacing track with new rail, ballast and ties; rehabilitating the Rutland Wye; adding new gates for public crossings, a new passing siding in Pitsford and a crossover in Leicester to allow for operational flexibility. The project will also include installation of new passenger platforms.
The grant was awarded to the Vermont Agency of Transportation as part of $500 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants released across the country for rail and transportation improvements. The project will completely upgrade the track to all for safer and faster movement of freight and passenger speeds that meet Amtrak's operating requirements.