The Federal Railroad Administration said it is taking applications over the next few months for about $73 million in grant funding under two programs “for projects that can strengthen intercity passenger rail, support capital projects and boost safety initiatives that may include the implementation of positive train control, improved highway-rail grade crossings and congestion mitigation.”
Congress authorized the grants in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act and funded them last May in its appropriations for fiscal 2017. The FRA announced its notices of funding opportunity on Feb. 15.
The FRA said it expects the grants “to leverage private, state and local investments to boost a wide range of rail projects,” including grade crossing and collision-avoidance upgrades, plus work to mitigate congestion, repair or replace existing railroad assets, and enhance intercity passenger rail transportation.
The agency said that nearly $68 million will be disbursed through its Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program, and it is taking the grant applications for 120 days after publication of the notice in the Federal Register. It will disburse nearly $5 million through its Restoration and Enhancement Grants program, and will take applications for 90 days after a Register notice.
It was not clear when the FRA grants will actually be awarded. Last year the Department of Transportation took applications for its 2017 TIGER infrastructure grants but has not yet announced grant winners. It also combined the 2017 large-project multimodal and freight grants under the FAST Act-authorized INFRA program with the 2018 grant round and took applications for those; it has not yet awarded any of those funds either.
At least 25 percent or $17 million of the CRISI program’s funding will go to rural projects such as highway-rail grade crossing improvements, the FRA said. Another $10 million is available for capital projects like rail line relocation or grade separation projects that contribute safe intercity passenger rail service.
And it said part of both programs is directed to grants for freight or intercity passenger rail capital projects in Alaska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
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