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The Federal Railroad Administration issued more than $368 million in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements or CRISI grants on June 2 to 46 projects in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

[Left to right in above photo: Gov. Roy Cooper (D), FRA Administrator Amit Bose, NCDOT Sec. Eric Boyette. Photo by NCDOT.]

The agency said that funding would play a crucial role in modernizing the nation’s rail infrastructure, strengthen supply chains, reduce congestion, and get people and goods where they need to go quickly and more affordably.

Photo by NCDOT

Those CRISI-funded projects not only improve and expand passenger rail and fund conventional and high-speed rail, they also increase “supply chain resilience and fluidity,” support short line railroads, invest in new technology and safety advancements, and benefit rail industry workforce development and training activities – helping to create jobs and increase economic growth.

Several state departments of transportation received funding via this round of CRISI grants, including:

  • $6.2 million to the Georgia Department of Transportation for its Heart of Georgia Americus Sub Upgrade Project to replace approximately 18 miles of rail, 2,750 crossties, and make many more rail upgrades. These improvements will accommodate 286,000-pound loads and improve reliability, efficiency, and safety by eliminating slow-orders along 51 miles of Heart of Georgia Railroad lines that connect at the Cordele Inland Port.
  • $57.9 million to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for its Raleigh to Richmond or R2R Corridor Infrastructure Engineering & Safety Program, funding surveys and preliminary engineering for rail improvements between Raleigh, NC, and Richmond, VA. Included in this project is the construction of a grade separation on the S-Line in Wake Forest, NC. The project advances the next phase of the R2R corridor development, which will eventually result in new intercity passenger rail service on a state-owned route that will access currently underserved and minority rural communities with rail service, as well as improve travel times on the existing Amtrak Silver Meteor service.
  • $10.9 million to the Kansas Department of Transportation for its Southwest Kansas Infrastructure Upgrade Project, which would make improvements on the Cimarron Valley Railroad in from Dodge City to Hugoton, KS, enabling it to support biodiesel transport operations as well as local agricultural products, raise the allowable speed from 10 mph to 25 mph, and increase railcar weight capacity.
  • $21.3 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation for its Great Lakes Corridor Improvement Project, which seeks to rehabilitate track and rail assets operated by the Great Lakes Central Railroad just north of Ann Arbor, MI, to reduce track defects, derailments, and other maintenance problems associated with rail joints. The project qualifies for the statutorily required set-aside for rural investment.

FRA said in a statement that its CRISI program aims to advance intercity passenger and freight rail projects that promote FRA’s key goals of safety, economic growth, transportation equity, and sustainable and resilient infrastructure.

By statute, a minimum of 25 percent of CRISI grants must fund rural projects and, according to the FRA, this round of funding includes nearly double the required investment in rural communities.

In addition, $87.6 million of those grants support the development of new intercity passenger rail service, with $25.7 million set aside for capital projects or engineering solutions targeting trespassing, exceeding the required statutory minimums.

Historically, FRA said its CRISI program funds projects that improve safety and railroad infrastructure, reduce congestion, relocate rail lines, conduct rail-related research, and enhance multi-modal connections between rail and other modes such as ports or intermodal facilities.

Workforce development projects are also eligible to support the education and training needs of rail workers, the agency noted.

editor@aashto.org

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