December 13, 2011

FRA awards rail funds to Chicago, D.C., Georgia

The Illinois Department of Transportation was awarded more than $177 million in federal funding for a passenger rail project that will operate twice daily round-trip service between Chicago and the Quad Cities and put nearly 2,000 Americans back to work this spring.

The start of twice daily round-trip service between Chicago and the Quad Cities, with intermediate stops at Geneseo, Princeton, Mendota, and Plano, Ill., will be made possible by infrastructure improvements, including a new station at Geneseo, a layover facility in the Quad Cities area, communication and signaling improvements and the purchase of new passenger rail equipment.

The introduction of next-generation American-made trains, funded as part of previously announced grants totaling $782 million, will help reinvigorate domestic manufacturing. States will purchase 36 quick-acceleration locomotives and 130 bi-level passenger cars to operate in Illinois as well as Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, California, Washington and Oregon.

Additionally, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) received a $4.1 million grant from the U.S. DOT to complete a service development plan and environmental study for a 250-mile passenger rail corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C. GDOT is contributing $1.125 million for this phase of the project. GDOT recently announced a new multi-modal passenger terminal in downtown Atlanta, which is being designed to accommodate high-speed rail service.

The District of Columbia Department of Transportation received $2.9 million to evaluate alternatives for rehabilitation or replacement of the Long Bridge over the Potomac River. The bridge, more than 100 years old, is the sole railroad bridge between Virginia and Washington, carrying approximately 90 passenger and freight trains daily. Rail service over the Long Bridge is expected to grow to nearly 150 trains per day in the next 20 years. CSX, the company that owns the bridge, will contribute $100,000 to the study.

States in the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor have received nearly $581 million to develop high-speed rail service in the region.  Most recently, Virginia received $44.3 million for environmental analysis and preliminary engineering for the segment between Washington and Richmond.  North Carolina received $4 million for environmental and design work for the construction of a new connection between Raleigh and Richmond that could reduce travel time by one hour and 30 minutes from the current schedule.

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