News & Reviews News Wire FRA announces $8.2 billion in Federal-State Partnership passenger grants (updated)

FRA announces $8.2 billion in Federal-State Partnership passenger grants (updated)

By Trains Staff | December 8, 2023

Projects in Alaska, Maine join list of those previously announced by legislators

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Passenger train with converted locomotive cab car leading.
A Boston-bound Downeaster skirts a downtown Portland, Maine., location being considered for a new station on Aug. 23, 2022. Improvements on the Downeaster route are among projects receiving Federal-State Partnership grant funds. Bob Johnston

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration has selected 10 projects for grants under its Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grant program, according to a list released today (Friday, Dec. 8) on the FRA website.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the grants in a press release that linked those awards with the selection of 69 routes for the FRA’s Corridor Identification and Development program [see “Full list of passenger routes …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 8, 2023].

“With this funding,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, referring to both programs, “we’ll deliver America’s first high-speed rail on a route between Southern California and Las Vegas, complete major upgrades for riders in Virginia, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maine, Montana, and Alaska, and announce a comprehensive plan that makes it easier to expand passenger rail lines in 44 states.”

Grants announced total $8.2 billion. Eight of these projects have previously been reported by Trains News Wire as they have been announced by local elected officials, including upgrades at Chicago Union Station, which are counted as two projects on the FRA’s list. The complete list, with links to the previously reported projects, includes:

— $8.2 million for replacement of an Alaska Railroad bridge at Milepost 190.5 in Willow, Alaska;

— $27.4 million for Downeaster corridor track improvements in Maine;

$3.1 billion for the California High-Speed Rail project;

$93.6 million for Chicago Union Station: $49.6 million for mail platform reactivation, and $44 million for platform expansion and trainshed ventilation improvements;

$14.9 million for infrastructure improvements on BNSF Railway in the Malta, Mont., area and at the Malta Amtrak station;

$3 billion for the Brightline West project;

$1.1 billion for the Raleigh-to-Richmond rail project;

$143 million for infrastructure improvements on the route of Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian;

$729 million for passenger rail projects in Virginia, led by the construction of a second Long Bridge over the Potomac River.

The Alaska project will eliminate the need to add speed restrictions at the bridge site and remove freight-car weight restrictions, allowing unrestricted use of standard 286,000-pound cars. The Alaska Railroad Corp. will provide 20% in matching funds for the project expected to cost a total of $10.3 million; construction is expected in 2025-26.

The work in Maine will fund development, final design, and construction of improvements on the CSX Transportation main line between Brunswick, Maine, and the Massachusetts state line. It will support future Downeaster expansion and reduce the need to impose slow orders on the route. CSX will provide 20% in matching funds. The project is expected to cost a total of $34.3 million and take place in 2024-25.

There were a total of 67 grant applications; those selected included two high projects, five conventional rail corridor improvements, and three involving existing services state-of-good repair projects or improvements. The emphasis was clearly on construction that would begin in relatively short order; every project selected indicates construction will begin in 2024 or 2025, other than the Union Station work, which lists it as “to be determined.” No application was selected that strictly involved planning.

— Updated at 11:43 a.m. CST with FRA press release, comment from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

4 thoughts on “FRA announces $8.2 billion in Federal-State Partnership passenger grants (updated)

  1. End of the year so got to start throwing away your tax dollars to clear the coffers and make room for next years spending $$$$. Ukraine and Israel have to be wondering why their money is getting spent on all these rail projects.

  2. Here in Kansas: there has been some media ‘news’ (?) in recent years for an extension of the Oklahoma,(currently sponsored) AMTRAK DFW to OKC Regional Service (Heartland Flyer) to Wichita. Possibly, also to KC.
    Recently, it was being pushed as a possible ‘meet with the SWC at Newton,Ks(?)..
    [The SWC’s (#3&#4) currently, get to Newton, late at night, or early AM] their arrivals in Newton, both seems to be eclectic(?) schedule-wise. IMHO]
    State Political types, seem to want it to continue on to KC for a newer scheduled arrival/departure, but the current governor&company appears to have been administratively ‘slow-walking’ study and state funding aspects its’ aspects.(?)

  3. It’s an election year so that’s always a factor, more so this time around because the current president is currently not in good standing with the voters.

  4. I would be curious to find out which projects didn’t get a grant? This is a lot of public infrastructure spending in a short period of time.

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