U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that twelve cities and states will share $16.9 million to relocate, replace, and improve segments of railroad track under the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)'s Rail Line Relocation and Improvement competitive grant program.
The FRA received more than $67 million in state and local government requests for these funds, which will be used to enhance safety, livability, and economic development in American communities.
"The overwhelming number of applications we received for this program shows that state and local officials recognize the economic boost that comes with improving transportation infrastructure," said Secretary LaHood. "These investments will help advance President Obama's vision of an "America Built to Last' by putting people back to work on transportation projects while creating livable communities and stimulating economic growth."
FRA's rail line relocation competitive grant program funds projects that reduce the adverse effects of rail infrastructure on safety, motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic, community quality of life, or economic development. Funding for these grants is made available through annual appropriations and requires a 10 percent contribution from the project sponsor. Rail line relocation dollars announced today will fund the following projects:
Massachusetts -- Massachusetts DOT -- Patriot Corridor Double-Stack Clearance Initiative -- $2,000,000 to complete preliminary engineering and environmental analysis for the removal of 19 obstructions in two tunnels and 17 roadway, railroad or pedestrian bridges that would prevent a double-stack train from operating along the Patriot Corridor between Mechanicville, New York, and Ayer, Massachusetts. A large component of the overall project involves raising the vertical clearance of the 4.75-mile Hoosac Tunnel in Florida, Massachusetts. Removing the vertical obstructions will improve freight operations and capacity by allowing double-stacked container trains to operate over the line.
Pennsylvania -- County of Lycoming -- Lycoming Valley Railroad Improvement -- $2,437,388 for construction improvements to track and related rail infrastructure in Lycoming County that suffered damage from Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011. The work will restore rail freight service to customers and eliminate costly re-routings.
South Carolina -- South Carolina Department of Commerce -- South Carolina Public Railways S-Curve Realignment -- $248,934 to relocate and realign an S-curve in North Charleston that has contributed to several derailments. The reduced curvature will also improve operating efficiency by alleviating restrictions on train speeds and enhancing line capacity.
Alabama -- City of Sylacauga -- Sylacauga Railroad Interchange Relocation -- $1,595,994 to relocate an interchange two miles west of downtown Sylacauga in order to alleviate traffic delays and congestion caused by blocked grade crossings at the town's primary North-South thoroughfare and three other roadways. The construction of two new sidings will also increase freight capacity.
Florida -- City of Ocala -- Florida Northern Railroad Relocation and Railway Improvement -- $2,220,000 to relocate a rail line running along a city street to improve safety in an area with a history of motor vehicle-train collisions. The project will further improve safety and freight rail operations by replacing degraded track and upgrading advance warning systems at four highway-rail grade crossings.
Iowa -- City of Sioux City -- Southbridge Rail Yard -- $2,000,000 to construct a new rail yard in Sioux City to alleviate traffic congestion and safety issues caused by freight trains blocking grade crossings. The new rail yard will also enhance railroad switching operations and accommodate current and future freight demand.
Indiana -- Indiana DOT -- Daviess County-Elnora Siding -- $1,608,029 to construct a new siding in Elnora to improve freight capacity and efficiency by eliminating a bottleneck that prevents northbound and southbound trains from passing each other. The project will also allow the Indiana Southern Railroad to relocate its switching and staging operations to the new siding.
Indiana -- City of Indianapolis -- Indianapolis Downtown Rail Relocation -- $896,949 to complete preliminary engineering and environmental analysis for the relocation of freight traffic from downtown Indianapolis to the nearby Indianapolis Belt Railroad. Ultimately, separating freight and passenger rail service will improve the safety and efficiency of current operations.
South Dakota -- South Dakota DOT -- Sioux Valley Railroad Relocation -- $1,803,801 to relocate a section of rail that runs along the side of a hill near the Big Sioux River at the South Dakota/Iowa border. This relocation will eliminate frequent service interruptions that are required to maintain the existing track.
Alaska -- Alaska Railroad Corporation -- MP 407 Curve Realignment -- $819,900 to realign a curve and stabilize the embankment at Mile Post 407 of the Alaska Railroad. This segment of track is located along a tributary of the Nenana River that has experienced numerous flood events, including flooding that resulted in a disaster declaration in 2008. The project will ensure the continuation of operations on the line.
California -- City of West Sacramento -- Port of West Sacramento Loop Track -- $960,567 to construct a loop track at the Port of West Sacramento, which will improve freight capacity and efficiency by enabling switching and storage operations to take place solely on Port property. The project will also significantly reduce the amount of time a major highway-rail grade crossing is blocked by freight traffic and provide for a more secure perimeter at the Port.
Texas -- City of Big Spring -- Rail Spur Rehabilitation -- $299,423 to rehabilitate approximately two miles of spur track that serves an industrial park in Big Spring. These improvements will allow freight rail services to be provided to additional local manufacturers and suppliers.