The Midwest reaped a bountiful harvest last month when the Federal Railroad Administration announced more than $326 million in grant awards to states, localities and railroads for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program.
For the first time, in this round every MIPRC state was awarded a CRISI grant; more than $93 million was awarded to MIPRC states from this latest round of awards, which came from FY 2018 federal appropriations.
Missouri landed the largest single award – $28.8 million for rehabilitation of the century-old MacArthur Bridge which carries trains, including the state-supported Lincoln Service (Chicago-St. Louis, four trains daily) and long-distance Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio, Texas, daily) over the Mississippi River.
In February, this project won $7 million in FY 2017 CRISI funding for a smaller component, the replacement of a truss over Broadway Street in St. Louis. According to the FRA, the new award will help complete the rehab project.
Other awards benefiting intercity passenger rail service include:
• $19.2 million to Illinois for the Dolton Interlocking Upgrade, a project in the CREATE program, which will reconfigure a junction where CSX, the Indiana Harbor Belt and the Union Pacific railroads cross. This will allow freight trains to run at higher speeds, thus reducing potential delays on the long-distance Cardinal (Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati-Washington, D.C., three days per week); and
• $2.7 million to Wisconsin for signals and centralized train control for about two miles of track near Milwaukee’s Intermodal Station, which will allow freight trains plus the state-supported Hiawatha (Milwaukee-Chicago, seven trains daily) and the long-distance Empire Builder (Chicago-Milwaukee-Seattle/Portland, Oregon, daily) to operate at faster speeds.
You can see a full list of MIPRC state awards here.
The purpose of CRISI is to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of passenger and freight rail systems. Eligible activities include a wide range of capital, regional and corridor planning, environmental analyses, research, workforce development and training projects.
Congress appropriated $592.5 million for the CRISI program in FY 2018. Of that, $250 million was set aside for certain PTC projects and $18.2 million was set aside for “Special Transportation Circumstances.”
Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) related to FY 2019 appropriations for the FAST Act’s three passenger rail-related grants – $255 million for CRISI, $300 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair and $5 million for Restoration & Enhancement grants – have not yet been issued.
You can see a history of recent NOFOs here, and an overview of funding for FAST Act passenger rail-related programs here.