Top federal railroad official visits Vermont to announce $9 million for Western Corridor Rail Project
September 5, 2013 - BURLINGTON - Joseph Szabo, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, joined Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Peter Welch, a representative of Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office, state lawmakers and others today to announce an $8.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to rehabilitate railroad track along the Western Corridor, part of an $18.5 million project to reduce costs to shippers served by the line, increase freight traffic speed, and allow for future expansion of Amtrak’s Ethan Allen service from Rutland to Burlington.
“I am grateful to President Obama, Transportation Secretary Foxx and Administrator Szabo for selecting the Western Corridor Rail project as one of the few projects approved for funding under the grant program,” said Gov. Shumlin. “This work is critical in improving freight and passenger rail in Vermont, which has been a consistent priority for my Administration. The Western Corridor is an especially high priority because it will increase our ability to move people and freight, bringing better economic opportunities for cities and towns along the entire corridor, including Rutland where the Ethan Allen line currently ends.”
Sens. Leahy and Sanders, and Rep. Welch have been closely involved with efforts to revitalize the Western Rail Corridor for many years. Vermont’s congressional delegation has secured congressional appropriations to assist with the reconstruction of bridges, rail line and crossings in the corridor, and they have supported the efforts of local, state and federal partners to establish, expand and enhance Amtrak service along the Ethan Allen Express line.
“This grant is another vital step toward increasing transportation options on the western side of Vermont. It will expand freight rail capacity in the corridor, and it is a crucial piece in helping us restore passenger rail service between Bennington, Rutland and Burlington,” said the Congressional delegation in a joint statement. “We applaud the Vermont Agency of Transportation and Vermont Railway for putting forward a strong application, and we appreciate U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo for giving it a thorough and timely review.”
Administrator Szabo said this project will rehabilitate 20 miles of the state-owned Vermont Railway from Rutland to Leicester, including replacing 9 miles of rail, upgrading 11 at-grade farm crossings, and other improvements. The results of this project will eliminate track-related slowdowns, and allow for the future extension of Amtrak’s Ethan Allen service from Rutland to Burlington. Approximately $6 million in match funding is coming from four already- allocated federal appropriations along the corridor; an additional $3.2 million match will be funded by the State, as reflected in the recent Transportation Fund budget, and $200,000 will be contributed in-kind from the rail operator.
“This investment is helping to move the economy by improving track, bridges and other infrastructure, building stations and intermodal facilities, advancing higher performing rail service, and improving safety,” said Administrator Szabo.
The funding is from the federal DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2013 discretionary grant program. This grant is one of 17 rail grants funded totaling $146,247,615 in this round of TIGER.
“TIGER is a down payment on our transportation future, and we are investing $474 million in 52 transportation projects in 37 states this year,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This project in Vermont supports President Obama’s call to ‘Fix it First’, strengthening the freight system so important to our nation’s economy, including the economies in rural areas.”
The highly competitive TIGER program offers one of the only federal funding possibilities for large, multi-modal projects that often are not eligible for other federal funding sources. These federal funds are leveraged with money from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies and for the 2013 TIGER round alone support $1.8 billion in overall project costs.
Applications for this most recent round of grants totaled more than $9 billion, far exceeding the $474 million set aside for the program. In all, the Department received 582 applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Click here for additional information on individual TIGER grants http://www.dot.gov/tiger/fy2012tiger.pdf