The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded $291 million in federal grants to help finance 11 major projects that aim to upgrade passenger-rail infrastructure around the country.
The project selections, which DOT and its Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced on Oct. 28, are located in nine states and include bridge replacements, station improvements and signaling upgrades. The winners were selected from among 16 applicants, an FRA spokesman says.
[View FRA summaries of each project here.]
Connecticut was the big winner. Its state Dept. of Transportation, teamed with Amtrak, received $144.9 million, nearly half of the total awarded, to replace two Northeast Corridor bridges that are each more than 100 years old.
Those two grants are the largest individual awards in this round of funding from the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. The program was created in the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act, part of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST Act.
The larger of the two Connecticut grants is $79.7 million to help fund a new bridge over the Norwalk River. Plans call for replacing the state-owned, movable Walk Bridge, built in 1896, with two new vertical-lift bridges, each with two tracks.
Earlier, the project had received $29.9 million from FRA under the same program, as well as Federal Transit Administration and Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
The other grant for a Connecticut project is $65.2 million to replace a 113-year-old bridge across the Connecticut River. The bridge, which Amtrak owns, links Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.
The new bridge will feature a bascule movable span that will provide a greater vertical clearance for ship traffic on the river than the current structure does.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a statement that the bridges “are major chokepoints on the Northeast Corridor."
California, Massachusetts projects
Other large FRA grants include $31.8 million to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, for track, structures and grade-crossing rehabilitation on the Pacific Surfliner Corridor in Ventura County and northern Los Angeles County.
California’s other grant is $9.8 million to the North County Transit District to replace and upgrade signal and train control and grade-crossing equipment on a 60-mile rail section in the San Diego area.
Also on the list of winners is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which will receive $29.3 million to build a more accessible platform, plus track and signal rehabilitation, at Worcester Union Station.
Under the federal-state partnership program, the federal share of a project’s cost is limited to 80%, though FRA said it would give “selection preference” to candidates that propose a federal share of 50% or less. The remaining shares can come from state and local governments or the private sector.
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