Pennsylvania is distributing $32 million in state Department of Transportation grants to 27 rail freight improvement projects that backers say will help sustain more than 400 jobs, Gov. Tom Wolf announced.
"Keeping our extensive rail freight system in good shape is a vital component of creating a sound foundation for Pennsylvania's economy," said Wolf. "These investments underscore our continued commitment in building a world-class infrastructure system that supports the creation of new jobs and our business community."
The State Transportation Commission voted to approve the grant aid through two PennDOT accounts – its Rail Transportation Assistance Program for projects listed in the capital budget and the Rail Freight Assistance Program.
Both are annual matching fund programs that depend on annual authorization by the General Assembly, and in which the state grants may cover up to 70 percent of project costs.
"Rail freight is an important component of Pennsylvania's transportation network and these investments create opportunities for expansion and job creation," PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said.
"Pennsylvania, with 67 operating railroads, has more than any other state and PennDOT's focus is on working with private rail operators to assist in maintaining and improving the roughly 5,600 miles of freight lines in the state," the announcement said.
PennDOT's March 27 press release detailed the full list of awards and their projects.
Among the larger grants in this round is $4.2 million to help the R.J. Corman Railroad Co. rehabilitate about 36 miles of track in Clearfield and Indiana counties, including replacing rail, ties, ballast and resurfacing the track.
The commission approved a $3.9 million grant for a project in Dauphin County to help Norfolk Southern railway realign track in Middletown to increase clearances for rail freight trains and reduce track curvature.
PennDOT said $3.8 million is going to Shell Chemical Appalachia to build 10 miles of track from Aliquippa to Monaca to haul construction materials for Shell's plant and outbound product from the completed plant.
And Allegheny Valley Railroad is getting $2.9 million to rehab nearly 10 miles of track from Bakerstown to Glenwood Yard, a project that includes replacing continuous welded rail and resurfacing the track.
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