The Federal Railroad Administration announced that it is accepting applications for $73 million in grant funding for projects that can strengthen intercity passenger rail, support capital projects, and boost safety initiatives that may include the implementation of positive train control (PTC), improved highway-rail grade crossings, and congestion mitigation.
“These grants are important resources in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the nation’s overall rail systems, deploy positive train control, and improve highway-rail grade crossings,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.
The funding, made available through new grant programs, is authorized by the FAST Act and funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2017. These grants are expected to leverage private, state, and local investments to boost a wide range of rail projects, including the potential for implementing PTC, improving highway-rail grade crossings, mitigating congestion, repairing or replacing railroad assets, and enhancing intercity passenger rail transportation.
According to the FRA’s press release, the announcement and solicitation reflects the White House’s Infrastructure principles, including supporting economic vitality at the national and regional level; leveraging Federal funding to attract other, non-Federal sources of infrastructure investment, as well as accounting for the lifecycle costs of the project; using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and holding grant recipients accountable for their performance and achieving specific, measurable outcomes identified by grant applicants.
Funds will be dispersed through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program and the Restoration and Enhancement Grants program. At least 25%, or $17 million, of CRISI’s $68 million in funding will be used for rural projects like highway-rail grade crossing improvement projects. Another $10 million is available for certain capital projects like rail line relocation and improvement or grade separation projects that contribute to the safe initiation or restoration of intercity passenger rail service. A portion of funding from the CRISI and Restoration and Enhancement programs — $2.2 million set-aside for Special Transportation Circumstances — is directed to grants for freight or intercity passenger rail capital projects in Alaska, South Dakota, and Wyoming.