he US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced 70 projects that will receive $1.4bn in funding through the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The funding is the largest amount ever awarded for rail safety and rail supply chain upgrades through the FRA’s Consolidated Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, according to the administration, and covers 35 states and Washington, DC.
Secretary of the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Pete Buttigieg said: “These projects will make American rail safer, more reliable, and more resilient, delivering tangible benefits to dozens of communities where railroads are located, and strengthening supply chains for the entire country.”
The majority of projects will support rail safety and supply chains in the rail freight industry and nearly two-thirds of the CRISI funding will be directed into rural communities.
National rail company Amtrak is one of the organisations benefiting from the funding with almost $200m going towards four of its projects in the Northeast Corridor and the Gulf Coast states, including $178m for the Gulf Coast Corridor Improvement Project.
That project includes the development and construction of various railway track, signal, grade-crossing, and station improvements that will enable the organisation, along with the Southern Rail Commission, to run twice-daily services between Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Amtrak also supported a number of grants from other entities covering work in areas including the Massachusetts DOT, Virginia Passenger Rail Authority, Maryland DOT, City of Birmingham DOT, and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority.
CEO Stephen Gardner said: “The CRISI grants announced today will help launch new and expanded service, advance critical safety and reliability improvements, and provide opportunities for the workforce, marking another big milestone as we continue to advance a new era of passenger rail.”
“I am grateful for the partnership Amtrak has with our state, host and commuter partners and our labour representatives that helped support these grants,” he added.
Other projects to receive significant funding from the CRISI program include the Rural Rail Rehabilitation Phase II Project in eastern Washington, which received more than $72.8m to improve and enhance infrastructure on the Palouse River & Coulee City Railroad, an important line for the wheat supply chain, to allow it to carry modern railcars and protect it against severe weather.
The Foster Economic Sustainability Throughout Kentucky Project will also receive more than $29.5m to make improvements along the 280-mile main line of the Paducah and Louisville Railway to reduce delays and improve safety on the vital freight line.
FRA Administrator Amit Bose said the “unprecedented” levels of funding will invest in a 21st-century rail network and lead to cleaner transportation and safer communities across the US.
The announcement comes soon after Amtrak made further steps in another large infrastructure project with the selection of the first major contractors for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel project in Baltimore, Maryland.