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USDOT Announces $321M in Rail Funding

Monday, October 12, 2020

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Announced at the end of September, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration selected 50 projects to receive competitive grant funding under the Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program.

“This $320.6 million federal investment will upgrade U.S. rail infrastructure and enhance rail safety in communities across America,” said Chao.

Funding for the CRISI program was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.

About the Program

According to USDOT, the CRISI program was authorized to improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail systems. Since 2017, the Administration has awarded over $1.2 billion through the CRISI program to improve rail infrastructure.

As part of funding requirements outlined in the CRISI Program, rural projects were slated to receive a minimum of 25% of available funding. However, this round awarded over 60% of the funds to rural projects. Additionally, of the 50 projects awarded, USDOT reports that 32 are located in Opportunity Zones, which were created to revitalize economically distressed communities using private investments.

Art Wagner / Getty Images

Announced at the end of September, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration has selected 50 projects to receive competitive grant funding under the Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program.

Nine of the projects were selected to specifically address safety at highway-rail grade crossings, and deter illegal trespassing, which is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America.  Other projects expand, upgrade or rehabilitate railroad track, switches, yard and station facilities to increase performance and service delivery.

“We remain committed to helping address pressing transportation capital needs, particularly in rural areas,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “I am pleased that so many high-quality applications were submitted for worthwhile investments by the FRA.”

For this round of CRISI Program grant funding, a Notice of Funding Opportunity soliciting applications was published in the Federal Register on April 20.

Projects awarded in the 2020 CRISI Program and their award amounts, among others, include:

  • Pine Tree Corridor 286K Capacity and Safety Improvements (Multiple Opportunity Zones) in Maine: $16,876,760;
  • Trespass Prevention and Pedestrian Safety Enhancements on the Michigan Line (Multiple
  • Opportunity Zones) in Michigan: $15,619,365;
  • Thayer-North Rail Corridor At-Grade Consolidation and Safety Improvement Project in Missouri: $10,357,239;
  • Magic Valley Rail Safety & Capacity Expansion (Opportunity Zone) in Idaho: $7,491,315;
  • SW Chief Raton Route Modernization Program (Opportunity Zone) in New Mexico: $5,629,610; and
  • Elma Junction Safety, Capacity, and Efficiency Project in Washington: $1,374,399.

A full list of awarded projects can be viewed here.

Recent USDOT Funding

At the beginning of the year, an NOFO was posted regarding more than $900 million in grants through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grants program. Eligible projects included highway freight corridors on the National Highway Freight Network, highway or bridge projects on the National Highway System and projects expected to increase capacity on Interstates and other intermodal or rail projects.

In April, the USDOT announced $25 billion in federal funding allocations for the nation’s transportation systems and $1 billion in funding for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both allocations were made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed by President Donald J. Trump on March 27.

According to the USDOT’s press release, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) plans to use the $25 billion in allocated funding by giving $22.7 billion will to projects in large and small urban areas, while $2.2 billion is slated to be used for rural infrastructure.

As for Amtrak, FRA was slated to make or amend existing grants to Amtrak in order to provide approximately $1.02 billion; $492,000,000 for the Northeast Corridor and $526,000,000 for National Network Grants, as authorized by sections 11101(a) and 11101(b) of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. At least $239,000,000 of funds are also slated to be used to help mitigate the cost impact on America’s 28 State-supported intercity passenger rail routes.

By August, the FTA announced that $225 million in grant funding was available through its Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program, which aims to streamline project delivery of new transit infrastructure that meets program requirements.

The EPD Pilot Program is authorized by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. Projects must also utilize public-private partnerships, be operated and maintained by employees of an existing public transportation provider and have a federal cost share not exceeding 25% of the project cost.

And last month, the Trump Administration was reported to invest $1 billion into the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program. In this round of grant awards, the maximum award was $25 million, while no more than $100 million was awarded to a single state.

The funding was awarded to 70 projects in 44 states.

   

Tagged categories: Awards and honors; Department of Transportation (DOT); Federal Railroad Administration; Funding; Government; Government contracts; Grants; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rail

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