September 16, 2021
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The Kansas Department of Transportation is providing 10 railroad projects statewide with more than $5.2 million via the agency’s Short Line Rail Improvement Fund Program. Adding in the 30 percent match required by each project participant and that total rail investment jumps to $7.4 million, the agency said.

[Above photo via Wikimedia Commons]

That funding follows $5 million in grants awarded by the Kansas DOT in October 2020 to support 13 railroad projects.

The Short Line Rail Improvement Fund – created as part of the 10-year Eisenhower Legacy Transportation or IKE Program approved by the state legislature and signed into law in April 2020 – provides $5 million annually for three years.

Gov. Laura Kelly

“These 10 improvement projects will connect Kansas grain businesses with new regions and customers, supporting farmers and our agriculture industry,” said Governor Laura Kelly (D) in a statement. “My administration will continue to invest in needed and commonsense infrastructure improvements like these to strengthen our growing economy.”

Shippers spearhead six of those projects while short line railroads lead the other four projects, which involved everything from railroad siding expansion and increased railcar/carloading capacity to highway-rail crossing improvements.

Julie Lorenz. Photo by the Kansas DOT.

“In partnership with shippers and short line railroads, these modernization projects are improving commerce and opportunity for Kansas families and their communities,” added Kansas DOT Secretary Julie Lorenz.

“Together we’re working to better connect Kansas-grown grain to the broader network of Class 1 rail for delivery to regional, national and international markets,” she said.

Other state departments of transportation across the country are making similar Short Line Rail funding awards.

For example, the North Carolina Department of Transportation recently awarded 12 short line railroads and the North Carolina Ports Authority roughly $10.2 million in matching grant funds as part of its Freight Rail and Rail Crossing Safety Improvement program or FRRCSI, which supports rail infrastructure health, safety, and performance initiatives statewide.

editor@aashto.org

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