News & Reviews News Wire State, local rail projects part of Omnibus funding bill

State, local rail projects part of Omnibus funding bill

By | January 4, 2023

Members of Congress push individual transportation projects

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WASHINGTON — In December, Congress passed the fiscal year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which will continue funding for the federal government. Appropriators included significant funding for passenger rail and transit grant programs, which came in addition to capital funding included in the five-year Bipartisan Infrastructure bill. The measure includes $2.45 billion for Amtrak — below the $3 billion requested by the White House and the $3.3 billion requested by Amtrak — but $121 million above what Amtrak received in fiscal year 2022.

Also included in the package were what’s called Congressionally Directed Priorities — projects directly sponsored by members of Congress. There were several rail projects included in the bill, according to the Rail Passengers Association. Here are some of the projects that were included:

  • $2.1 million for the Hanford (Calif.) Intercity Rail Station Community Safety and Accessibility Enhancement project. The funding will go toward improving the safety, accessibility, and user condition of the Hanford Intercity Rail Station. The station connects travelers from the Central Valley to San Luis Obispo County, as well as to the many rural communities that are served by Amtrak’s San Joaquin trains and Thruway buses.
  • $12 million for Connecticut’s New Haven Line track speed improvement Phase 1.
  • $10 million for Los Angeles Metro’s proposed West Santa Ana Branch. The West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor project is a 19-mile project that Metro is evaluating for a new light rail transit line that would connect southeast Los Angeles County to downtown Los Angeles opening in 2041.
  • $7 million for an extension of the Forest Hill (N.Y.) station platform on the Long Island Rail Road.
  • $2 million for New River Valley (Va.) Passenger Service Extension. The state hopes to extend passenger rail service from Roanoke to Christiansburg in 2026.
  • $1.2 million for the Newport News (Va.) Transportation Center. The $47 million facility, which will serve Amtrak trains, buses, taxis, and airport shuttles is expected to open in fall 2023.
  • $1.6 million for Vermont Amtrak Stations Rehabilitation Phase 1.
  • $1.8 million for the Bellows Falls (Vt) Intermodal Transportation Center Rehab. It is served by Amtrak’s Vermonter.

7 thoughts on “State, local rail projects part of Omnibus funding bill

  1. If you want to speed up getting to New York City, go to Grand Central rather than the wide semi-circle that is the Hell Gate Bridge Route. THAT would lop 20-25 minutes right there. Then getting to Penn Station and the West would be another problem. Any studies for a new tunnel from Grand Central under the North River to points west and south? I’m sure SOMEONE must have looked at it sometime.
    The siren call of the White Train Route, the legendary New England Limited, via Middletown, Willimantic, Putnam, Blackstone, Franklin to Boston. Shortest at 213 miles Grand Central to the Foot of Summer Street. Curvy as all get out; up-and-down as well! That it ran non-stop from Middletown on to the Boston area is because that area was sparsely populated. More to the point might be putting a high-speed rail line above the median of I-95 if you want to spend money!

  2. Excerpt from CTRail’s 6/21 study on the New Haven line “Curved track alignment limits operable speeds throughout the system to varying degrees, which leads to broad fluctuations in the maximum allowable speeds, inhibiting fast journey times and the efficient operation of the rail system. This limitation is difficult to address given that straightening of track is cost prohibitive and is limited by right-of-way constraints. Permanent speed restrictions are exacerbated by slow orders that are caused by the railroad’s state of good repair, particularly related to drainage, tie and track damage, and profile deviations.” And Acela can’t even use its tilting mechanisms to run at higher speed since track centers are too close. IMO to achieve High Speed Rail between New Haven and New York requires a new RR on a straighter alignment which is unlikely to happen in this densely populated area.

    1. Somehow the Connecticut Turnpike was squeezed through this urbanized area. That was then and this is now.

      The New Haven Railroad (which was a merger of parallel lines) had various slow-speed inland routes east of New Haven. Much of this has been abandoned. At one time or another there have been star-gazing proposals to improve some of these as a high-speed bypass of the eastern Shore Line. Wouldn’t have worked west of New Haven, not even in the best-case scenario.

      From New Haven into New York State and to New York City, there were no alternate routes. The Shore Line was what existed. There weren’t back then and there are not now any parallel routes to improve.

      We need to view the Shore Line for what is it: a useful, higher speed, scenic route connecting major cities — but it will never be faster than it is now.

  3. “Also included in the package were what’s called Congressionally Directed Priorities — projects directly sponsored by members of Congress. ”

    Translation: earmarks.

    1. “Translation: earmarks”, Anton writes above. Congressmen and Senators walk off with these penny-ante earmarks to bring home to their constituencies. While no one has any idea how to finance the real needs. These real needs include the Gateway Tunnels under the Hudson, the Frederick Douglass tunnel in Baltimore, or the three bridges in Connecticut that Mark Shapp writes about.

  4. I saw somewhere that a part of the New Haven line was like a 70MPH speed limit, so I think it’s a good thing that the speed will be improved on that part of the line, because that means shorter travel times.

    1. 70mph really too slow for you? If I were you I’d be far, far, far more concerned about the state of the Mianus, Saugatuck, and Housatonic River bridges that date back to 1904, 1904, and 1905 respectively. They all have slow orders that have been on for at least a generation. And they are all crying out for replacement. Can we please build the foundation before we build the house?

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