Monday, March 30, 2020
MIPRC states fared well in the latest round of federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants, announced March 12 by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Among $248.5 million in total grant funds awarded in 27 states, passenger rail-related projects in Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin will receive up to $48,795,496.
(The CREATE [Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency] program in Illinois also won up to $12,905,671 for a project to help untangle rail lines in and around Chicago – while this specific project is freight-related, together all of CREATE’s project will result in the faster flow of freight and passenger trains.)
MIPRC Chair Robert Guy hailed the awards, saying this recent round “once again greatly benefits the Midwest and proves why these federal grants are so important to our region.
“Nearly all MIPRC states will see the effects of the latest round of grants and shows why a coordinated Midwest effort is so important to improving and expanding passenger rail,” Guy said.
The biggest award was up to $26.6 million to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for the Muskego Yard Bypass Project, which will remove the flow of freight trains through Milwaukee Intermodal Station (used by the state-sponsored Hiawatha and long-distance Empire Builder trains). Work will include reconfiguring the existing Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) rail and yard facilities just south of the station to double track the CP’s mainline through the Muskego Yard, and reducing the number of grade crossings CP freight trains cross in Milwaukee.
In Missouri, the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis was awarded up to $21,445,577 to replace the main span trusses of the approximately 130-year-old Merchant’s Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri, and Venice, Illinois, and is used by the state-sponsored Lincoln Service and long-distance Texas Eagle.
And the Michigan Department of Transportation was awarded up to $749,919 for preliminary engineering, environmental analysis and documentation for a new dedicated passenger rail track in Battle Creek to allow state-sponsored Blue Water and Wolverine trains to bypass Canadian National track where frequent host railroad delays occur. The preliminary engineering and environmental analysis work will include new track and turnouts, grade crossings and reconstruction of the Battle Creek Intermodal Terminal’s boarding platform.
The CRISI program was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, which is due for renewal this year (see MIPRC’s renewal position paper here). CRISI awards are to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail systems. Rural projects must get a minimum of 25 percent of available funding under the CRISI Program; they got 50 percent in this latest round of grants.