Posts Tagged ‘federal grants’

FRA Has Passenger Grants Available

June 10, 2020

The Federal Railroad Administration this week released a $291.4 million notice of funding opportunity for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grant Program.

It is the third such NOFO for the Partnership Program to help repair and rehabilitate intercity passenger railroad assets.

The Fiscal Year 2020 Partnership Program and remaining Fiscal Year 2019 funding, which includes $198 million made available by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020, and $93.4 million that remains from the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2019, can be used to support capital projects that repair, replace or rehabilitate qualified railroad assets to reduce the state of good repair backlog and improve intercity passenger rail performance.

Eligible applications may involve railroad infrastructure, equipment or facility assets such as track, ballast, switches and interlockings, bridges, communication and signal systems, power systems, highway-rail grade crossings, stations, passenger cars, locomotives, maintenance-of-way equipment and yards, terminal areas and maintenance shops.

The Partnership Program grants are intended to benefit publicly or Amtrak-owned or -controlled passenger rail infrastructure, equipment and facilities.

Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis with the FRA considering how the projects support key agency objectives, including enhancing economic vitality; leveraging Federal funding; using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and holding grant recipients accountable for achieving specific, measurable outcomes. In addition, selection preference will be given to applications with a proposed non-Federal share that is comprised of more than one source of funding and applications that indicate strong project readiness. The Federal share of a project’s total cost must not exceed 80 percent.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. EDT on July 27.

FRA Award Grants for Passenger Projects

May 29, 2020

Amtrak and commuter rail agencies are expected to benefit from $302 million in Federal Railroad Administration grants that were made this week.

The grants are part of a federal-state partnership for the State of Good Repair Program to help repair railroad infrastructure.

The grants will fund 12 projects in nine states for capital projects to repair, replace or rehabilitate publicly or Amtrak-owned or controlled railroad assets.

The fiscal year 2019 program selections total $302.6 million of the $396 million made available for grants under the 2019 Consolidation Appropriations Act.

The FRA will make the remaining $93.4 million available with a notice of funding opportunity for FY2020 partnership program funds.

The grants, recipients and projects included:

  • $80 million to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to purchase six locomotives and 13 passenger coaches to replace existing state-owned equipment that are 30- and 50-years old, respectively. The equipment will serve Amtrak’s Piedmont service between Charlotte and Raleigh.
  • $55.1 million to Amtrak and New Jersey Transit for the Portal North Bridge project, which replaces the existing two-track movable Portal Bridge with a new 2.4-mile, two-track fixed span crossing the Hackensack River in northern New Jersey.
  • $36.4 million to NJ Transit and Amtrak to reconstruct Substation 41, an Amtrak-owned electrical facility in Kearny, New Jersey, that powers the Northeast Corridor main line in northern New Jersey into Penn Station in New York City.
  • $30 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to replace 210 catenary structures on Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line between Penn Station in New York City and New Rochelle, New York.
  • $29.9 million to the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Amtrak to replace the existing movable Norwalk River Bridge with two independent two-track vertical lift bridges. The project is a regional priority in the Northeast Corridor Commission’s five-year capital plan.
  • $17.5 million to MTA to rehabilitate platforms 7 and 8 at Penn Station in New York City.
  • $12.5 million to Metra to rehabilitate and modernize three interlockings on the Metra-owned Milwaukee North Line in Illinois, which is used by Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service and Empire Builder.
  • $11.6 million to the San Diego Association of Governments and North County Transit District to upgrade a section of district-owned track located on sensitive coastal bluffs in Del Mar, California, that is used by Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner service, NCTD’s Coaster service and freight carriers.
  • $8.3 million to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to rehabilitate and upgrade Track 2 from Glen Interlocking to Thorn Interlocking in Chester County on the Amtrak Harrisburg Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. The corridor serves Amtrak, SEPTA and freight trains.
  • $8 million to Amtrak and the Maryland Department of Transportation/Maryland Transportation Authority to rehabilitate and upgrade five miles of the Northeast Corridor mainline near Baltimore. The project will enable high-speed operations on all four tracks on this segment, as well as enable service to be maintained while tracks are taken out of service to allow repairs to the B&P Tunnel.
  • $6.75 million to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, for rehabilitation and scour mitigation on four existing bridges on the authority-controlled Ventura Subdivision, used by Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink’s Venture County Line service.
  • $6.5 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation to rehabilitate and upgrade track infrastructure on the state-owned Kalamazoo-Dearborn corridor, which is used by Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water trains, as well as multiple freight operators.

Amtrak Service to Colorado Springs to be Studied

March 3, 2020

The U.S. Department of transportation had awarded a $225,000 grant to be used to study extending a section of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The study would be an extension of ongoing efforts to bring Amtrak service to Pueblo, Colorado.

Colorado Springs Councilwoman Jill Gaebler, who serves on the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, said Amtrak proposed extending the Pueblo service to Colorado Springs, which is the second largest city in the state.

Colorado Springs has not had intercity rail passenger service since 1971.

“They approached us about the idea of not just having the spur go up to Pueblo, but then come the extra 30 miles into Colorado Springs,” Gaebler said.

She said the feasibility study will determine the costs of providing service to Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

Gaebler said a side benefit of the study would be to consider the cost of rebuilding the rail infrastructure needed for a passenger rail line from Pueblo to Fort Collins via Denver.

FRA Extends Deadline for Passenger Rail Grants

December 24, 2019

The deadline for a passenger rail grant program overseen by the Federal Railroad Administration has been extended to Feb. 5, 2020.

FRA had $24 million in Restoration and Enhancement Grants for “initiating, restoring, or enhancing intercity passenger rail service.”

The money was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.

The deadline had been Jan. 5, 2020, but was extended by a month after another $1.92 million was authorized by Congress for fiscal year 2020.

That brings the total amount of available grant money for the program to $26.3 million.

Funding in the program can be used for staffing, fuel, electricity, station expenses, rolling stock lease payments, routine planned maintenance, host railroad access costs, train yard operation and administrative costs.

Grants may be awarded to states (individually or collectively), cities and other government entities, Amtrak and other intercity passenger rail companies.

By law the FRA must give priority by application type, including those supporting projects that “foster economic development, expand transportation options in under served communities, and restore former Amtrak routes.”

Trinidad Failed to Land BUILD Grant for SW Chief Work

November 23, 2019

A bid by Trinidad, Colorado, for a federal BUILD grant to continue the rehabilitation of the BNSF route used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief has fallen short.

Trinidad had sought $16 million for the Southwest Chief Route Improvement Project but that application was not approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which recently announced its most recent round of BUILD grants.

Various government entities in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico in recent years have won federal funding to rebuild the route used by the Chief.

It is not clear what the failure of Trinidad to land the grant will mean for the efforts to rehabilitate the route of the Chicago-Los Angeles train.

Several years ago BNSF said it wouldn’t maintain the route in the three states to passenger train speeds because it seldom uses most of it for freight service.

That prompted the 2014 creation of a campaign to save the Chief by landing a series of grants to repair the tracks.

In a related development, Colorado officials are seeking another federal grant to pay for a study of creating a section of the Chief to serve Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

The Southwest Chief currently stops in Colorado in Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad.

Pueblo officials have in recent years sought to have the route of Nos. 3 and 4 changed to serve their city. The Chief currently does not pass through Pueblo.

Pueblo and Colorado Springs have been without intercity rail passenger service since the Santa Fe discontinued a Denver-La Junta connecting train on May 1, 1971.

That train connected with Santa Fe’s Super Chief/El Capitan, which is the ancestor of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

The plan to serve Colorado Springs would in effect reinstate that long ago discontinued connecting service.

That service is seen as part of a larger effort to restore intercity rail passenger along Colorado’s Front Range to as far north as Fort Collins.

The grant application indicates that Colorado section of the Southwest Chief would be designed to potentially connect to a Front Range passenger rail system in the future.

Illinois Gets Extension to Use Grant to Develop Route

November 8, 2019

The U.S. Department of Transportation has extended the deadline for the expenditure of a grant awarded to the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2010 to help launch an Amtrak route between Chicago and the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa.

The grant, which was awarded by the Federal Railroad Administration, received a multiyear extension.

The project has been delayed multiple times due to numerous issues.

Plans are to operate the route within Illinois on BNSF and Iowa Interstate tracks from Chicago Union Station to a multimodal station in Moline.

A major source of delay occurred during the administration of former Gov. Bruce Rauner, who “paused” development of the route after taking office in 2015.

Rauner was defeated in the 2018 election by J. B. Pritzker who after becoming governor earlier this year renewed the state’s support of the route by providing $225 million in state funding.

Additional delays have occurred as IDOT and the Iowa Interstate have negotiated the project’s scope and infrastructure upgrades needed to convert the former Rock Island Railroad tracks for passenger service. Those negotiations remain ongoing.

In the meantime the City of Moline has converted a downtown warehouse into a multimodal transportation center and hotel.

The original grant awarded by the FRA was for $177 million.

FRA Has Grants for Passenger Service

November 7, 2019

Grants to launch, restore or enhance intercity rail passenger service are available from the Federal Railroad Administration as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.

The agency said it is taking applications for $24 million in grant funding that can be applied to operating assistance including staffing, administrative costs, host-railroad access costs, station expenses, and lease payments on rolling stock, among other uses.

Amtrak and other intercity passengers are eligible to apply, as are states, groups of states, cities, and other governmental agencies.

“We’re encouraging applicants to leverage federal Restoration and Enhancement grants to support large-scale, intercity passenger rail improvements,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said in a statement.

The official Notice of Funding Opportunity describes a list of projects that will receive funding priority in funding including “applications that …restore service over routes formerly operated by Amtrak, including routes in the Gulf Coast region between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Orlando, Florida.”

U.S. DOT Awards Grant for Gulf Coast Service

August 31, 2019

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday announced that it will award a $4.36 million grant to the Southern Rail Commission to help restore intercity rail service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

The service, expected to be two round trips per day, will use tracks formerly served by Amtrak’s Sunset Limited until August 2005 when it was suspended in the wake of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The grant is being made through the federal Restoration and Enhancement program and is intended to help pay operating expenses for the first year of service.

The states of Louisiana and Mississippi have committed $1.4 million toward the service while another $33 million federal grant award to get the service started was awarded through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program for infrastructure and capital improvements.

However, Alabama officials have yet to agree to provide any funding for the service.

SRC officials said they hope Alabama state officials will support the passenger rail restoration by providing matching funds during the next grant cycle.

“I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners and Alabama state leadership to provide the necessary support to leverage additional federal operating funds to make Gulf Coast Rail a reality,” said Wiley Blankenship, an SRC member from Alabama.

Another stumbling block that must be overcome is reaching an agreement with host railroad CSX on the infrastructure work that is needed before passenger trains can resume using the route.

Likewise, an operating agreement with CSX also needs to be negotiated.

Vermont City Favor Seeking Rail Study Federal Grant

July 17, 2019

The city council in Barre, Vermont, narrowly voted last week to support a bid to win federal funds to study the possible restoration of intercity rail passenger service.

The service would operate between Barre and Montpelier, Vermont.

The vote was 4-2 with Mayor Lucas Herring casting the deciding vote.

The grant application will be submitted by the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, which hopes to land Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Vermont’s Agency of Transportation must submit a report by December detailing the estimated costs of upgrading the state-owned rail line and a timeline for potential construction.

Voting against the resolution was council member John Steinman, who said the the two cities are already connected by the “under capacity” Green Mountain Transit system.

Steinman said self-propelled buses would be a better transportation choice than rail.

Lawmakers Seek Grant Spending Deadline Extension

June 29, 2019

Illinois lawmakers are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to extend the deadline for use of a federal grant to establish Amtrak service between Chicago and the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa.

The letter was sent by Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, as well as Representative Cheri Bustos.

It came on the heels of a commitment by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to revive the efforts to establish the service, which would terminate in Moline, Illinois.

A recent capital funding bill approved by Pritzker and the state legislature allocated $225 million in state funding for the project.

The federal grant was originally awarded in 2010. The City of Moline has since created a station facility for the train and the Illinois Department of Transportation has held discussions with host railroad Iowa Interstate about infrastructure upgrades needed for the service.