Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today announced that eight cities and states will share $19.4 million to replace, relocate and improve segments of railroad track in order to enhance safety, livability and economic development. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) received 51 applications from across the country for the Rail Line Relocation and Improvement (RLR) grants, seeking more than $202 million.
"The strong desire to improve infrastructure and foster economic development throughout America is evident in the overwhelming demand by our nation's cities and states," said Secretary LaHood. "These strategic investments will help advance President Obama's vision to create jobs, build livable communities, and stimulate economic growth through local projects that deliver the greatest public benefits."
FRA's RLR Grant Program assists projects that improve community livability and promote economic development by addressing the effects of rail traffic on safety, roadway and pedestrian traffic, overall quality of life and local area commerce. 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:
Port of San Francisco, Calif. – Quint Street Yard Track and Signal Improvements – $2,970,000 to improve an approximately one mile-long spur connecting a Caltrain mainline track to the San Francisco Rail Yard. The mainline is under consideration for use as part of the California high-speed rail project, and the current condition of the spur track limits the frequency, weight and length of trains that can use the track, causing delays. The improvements will allow freight trains to operate at higher speeds and clear the mainline more quickly, significantly reducing delays to Caltrain commuter trains and future high-speed rail trains.
Sprague, Conn. – Providence & Worcester Railroad Willimantic Branch – $5,302,900 to upgrade track on the Providence and Worcester Railroad Co.'s Willimantic Branch, allowing freight operations to increase speed from 10 mph to 40 mph. Located in a rural section of east central Connecticut, the Willimantic Branch serves local shippers, and improvements will provide for more efficient movement of freight shipments originating from or destined to customers across the nation or overseas.
Maryland Department of Transportation– Canton Area Rail Improvement Project, $1,742,240 for the expansion of a Canton Railroad Co. yard facility. The short line railroad serves industrial customers in and around the Port of Baltimore. Current switching operations often cause major motor vehicle traffic delays, requiring traffic to be rerouted around the yard. The improvements will permit more efficient switching operations, and create additional car storage, which will help reduce traffic congestion.
Tavares, Fla. – Florida Central Railroad Upgrade and Rehabilitation, $2,200,000 to upgrade a segment of track on the Florida Central Railroad in Lake and Orange counties, allowing increases in speed from 10 mph to 40 mph. Coupled with additional track and bridge repairs, freight service can be restored to areas currently not served by rail. The improvements may also benefit potential future SunRail commuter service and an excursion train service between Orlando and the city of Mt. Dora.