Governor Scott Walker today announced $37 million in grants and loans for six freight rail improvement projects. The goal of Wisconsin’s Freight Railroad Assistance Program is to increase the use of rail transportation and support economic development and job creation.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is distributing $29.6 million in grants through the Freight Railroad Preservation Program (FRPP). FRPP grants cover up to 80 percent of project costs to help preserve freight rail service or rehabilitate track on publicly-owned rail lines. In addition, WisDOT is providing loans worth $7.4 million through the state’s Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program (FRIIP). FRIIP is a revolving loan program used to improve rail infrastructure and construct new rail-served facilities. Recipients for 2016-2017 are:
The Port of Milwaukee
A $1,763,520 grant was awarded to rehabilitate and reconstruct 15 road crossings within the Port of Milwaukee. Track within the road crossings has deteriorated and no longer meets the standards of railroads that operate within the Port property. The grant will cover 80 percent of the total $2,204,400 cost of the improvements. The project will include replacing the road crossing surfaces and 3,340 linear feet of new 115-pound rail. The Port will provide $440,880 in local matching funds.
Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Company (WSOR) received four project awards:
- Merrimac Bridge Rehabilitation: $14.4 million FRPP grant funds to cover 80 percent of the design, engineering and rehabilitation costs of Bridge 334 which crosses Lake Wisconsin at Merrimac, straddling Sauk and Columbia counties. A FRIIP loan of up to $1.8 million also will be provided to WSOR covering 10 percent of the $18 million total project cost. The remaining 10 percent ($1.8 million) will be provided by WSOR and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission (WRRTC). Engineering studies have identified this project as necessary to keep the Madison–Reedsburg rail line operational for 286,000-pound carloads.
- Reedsburg and Prairie Subdivision Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation: $1,971,760 FRPP grant to cover 80 percent of the $2,464,700 total project cost to replace and rehabilitate nine bridges in Crawford, Dane, Grant, Iowa and Richland counties. WSOR will provide the 20 percent matching funds, half of which will be financed with a FRIIP loan of $246,470. The Reedsburg and Prairie subdivisions are jointly owned by WisDOT and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission.
- Fox Lake Subdivision — Phase 2 Rail Replacement: $7,541,600 of FRPP grant funds and a $942,700 FRIIP loan to rehabilitate 12.9 miles of track between Walworth and Zenda (up to the Illinois state line). WSOR will provide $942,700 of matching funds towards total project costs of $9,427,000. This will complete a multi-year project to rehabilitate 21.5 miles of track on the Fox Lake Subdivision in Rock and Walworth counties. It includes reconstructing two public crossings, 16 private crossings, three turnouts, replacing worn out 90-pound rail with 115-pound continuous welded rail (CWR) and installing 13,350 new ties over 12.9 miles of track. When complete, the total project on the Janesville–Fox Lake line will include 30,000 new ties, new ballast with tamping and surfacing of the railroad bed, and installation of 21.5 miles of new 115-pound CWR. The Madison-Reedsburg line, the Reedsburg and Prairie subdivisions and the Fox Lake Subdivision are all jointly owned by WisDOT and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission.
- Oshkosh Subdivision — Phase 1 Rail Replacement: $3,942,240 FRPP grant covering 80 percent of the $4,927,800 total project cost to replace existing 85 and 90-pound rail with 115-pound continuous welded rail (CWR) on 7.5 miles of track between Brandon and Ripon. Seven public crossings and 13 turnouts also will be reconstructed. WSOR and the East Wisconsin Counties Railroad Consortium will provide the 20 percent local match of $985,560, half of which will be financed with a FRIIP loan of $492,780. The Oshkosh Subdivision is jointly owned by WisDOT and WSOR.
Country Visions Co-op, Wrightstown, WI
Country Visions Co-op has been awarded a $4 million FRIIP loan for an $8.5 million project to construct a large railroad-served fertilizer facility in the village of Wrightstown in Outagamie County. Costs above the loan amount are to be paid for with private funds. Dry fertilizers will be available to nearby farms on a more timely basis for spring planting as a result of this new rail-served facility. The new facility will be served by Canadian National Railroad.
Since 1994, WisDOT has provided more than $225 million in FRPP grants and more than $127 million in FRIIP loans to help fund 166 infrastructure acquisition, rehabilitation and improvement projects statewide.
Wisconsin’s rail system consists of 10 freight railroads which operate more than 3,300 miles of track in the state. Each year, more than 200 million tons of cargo is moved by rail.