U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $82.7 million to improve high-speed and intercity passenger rail in Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont. The dollars will provide needed upgrades to the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut's New Haven – Springfield line, Maine's Downeaster route and the Vermonter service.
"These are the kinds of investments that will improve reliability and on-time performance and attract more passengers," said Secretary LaHood. "We are creating jobs throughout New England, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the New England economy."
A highlight of the rail dollars includes:
Rhode Island Department of Transportation - $26.2 million for the design and construction of an electrified third track parallel to the Northeast Corridor's main line, and a new platform for the station in Kingston, R.I. The third track will permit faster trains to overtake slower trains, reducing congestion and improving on-time performance on the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak and commuter trains. Throughout the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C to Boston, $1.75 billion is being invested to improve service.
Rhode Island Department of Transportation - $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental reviews for American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant platforms at the Providence station on the Northeast Corridor. The project also includes improved parking and pedestrian access, station repairs, potential reconfiguration of transit circulation and drop-off facilities, and future tunnel improvements.
Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) - $20.8 million to alleviate congestion and reduce delays on segments of Amtrak's Downeaster service. The project will provide critically needed double track, as well as signal and highway-rail grade crossing improvements between Wilmington and Ballardville, Mass. Aging rail will be replaced with new, continuously-welded rail between Lawrence and Bradford, Mass. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates commuter trains on this line, and on-time performance for the Downeaster has deteriorated due to bottlenecks within this area. Currently, the Downeaster operates from Boston to Portland, Maine, and is expanding to Brunswick, Maine thanks to previous, federal grants totaling $38 million.
Connecticut Department of Transportation - $30 million for 6 miles of new double-tracks from Hartford to Windsor, Conn., which will connect with an existing siding to create a 9-mile double-tracks segment on Amtrak's New Haven-Springfield line. In addition, a new 8,500-foot siding will be added through the Hartford Yard to better clear freight trains off Amtrak's main line. Together, this added capacity will substantially relieve existing congestion in the Hartford area and will support future increases in rail service. The project also includes repairs and maintenance to bridges, signal improvements, and grade crossing improvements. Connecticut previously received $40 million for double track work between New Haven and Hartford to reduce delays and improve travel time.
Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) - $2.7 million for a 16-mile extension of improved signal and train control technology to enhance the safety and operation of the Amtrak Vermonter service. Additionally, upgrades to the dispatch communication system will be made to enhance its reliability. VTrans previously received $50 million for improvements to the 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon, Vt. servicing the Vermonter. The collective improvements will result in increased speeds, reduced travel time, and greater reliability.
Thirty-two states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia are currently laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors to link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations have provided $10.1 billion to put America on track towards providing new and expanded rail access to communities and improving the reliability, speed, and frequency of existing service.