Amtrak Routes to Benefit from CRISI Grants

Several federal CRISI grants were awarded this week that will improve routes used by several Amtrak trains.

A Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grant of $31.8 million grant was awarded to Ramsey County, Minnesota, to be used toward launching a second train between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago,

The funding will be used to complete final design work for infrastructure needed to accommodate the train, as well as construction of track, signal, and bridge improvements.

Matching funds will be provided from Minnesota ($10 million), Wisconsin ($6.2 million) and Amtrak ($5 million.

One existing Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee is expected to be extended to the Twin Cities.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive $15.6 million to improve pedestrian safety between Dearborn and Kalamazoo on Amtrak’s Michigan Line.

The funding will be used for fencing and other safety enhancements at grade crossings that have a high rate of foot traffic.

Officials said 12 pedestrians have been struck by trains in the past four years and there have been numerous near-misses.

The Washington State Department of Transportation received a $3.7 million for landslide mitigation north of Seattle in a mud slide-prone area near Mukilteo, Washington.

The area hosts 14 passengers and an average of 21 freight trains a day and has seen numerous service interruptions.

The funding will be used in the third phase of a program that began in 2016.

New Mexico Department of Transportation received $5.6 million to rebuild the route over Raton Pass used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

The work will include 12.4 miles of welded rail, 14,750 new ties, repairs to two bridges, rock scaling in three locations, and rebuilding of three grade crossings.

Total project cost is $11.5 million and includes $1 million in funding from New Mexico and $4.9 million from Amtrak.

In a news release, Amtrak said the latest CRISI grant is the fifth federal grant that has been awarded for rebuilding the route of the Chief in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.

In the pending project, work will begin next year to install new ties on a 31-mile section south of Raton Pass and another six-mile segment in New Mexico.

More than 12 miles of bolted rail will be converted to welded rail between Lamy and where Rio Metro’s Rail Runner commuter traffic diverges to Santa Fe.

Although being rebuilt are the decks of two bridges and three grade crossings.

Although it won’t immediately affect any current Amtrak routes, an award of $47.55 million was given to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the purchase of CSX’s S-Line rail corridor from Raleigh to Ridgeway, North Carolina.

The Buckingham Branch Railroad received $13.67 million to rebuild 70 miles of track, 14 grade crossings and five bridges in Virginia.

The work will also include construction of new drain systems in the Afton tunnel liner to reduce ice buildup; and improvement of clearances in two additional tunnels along the North Mountain Subdivision line between Charlottesville and Clifton Forge, Virginia.

The route is used by Amtrak’s Cardinal.

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