WASHINGTON– The Biden administration announced Monday that it has allocated more than $1.4 billion to projects to improve rail safety and expand capacity, with much of the money coming from the 2021 infrastructure law.
“These projects will make America’s railroads safer, more reliable and more resilient, bringing tangible benefits to dozens of communities where railroads are located and strengthening supply chains for the entire country,” he said. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
The money funds 70 projects in 35 states, and Washington, D.C.’s rail safety has become a major national concern since a train carrying dangerous chemicals derailed and caught fire in East Palestine, Ohio, in February. President Joe Biden has ordered federal agencies to hold rail operator Norfolk Southern accountable for the accident, but a package of proposed rail safety reforms is stalled in the Senate where the bill is still awaiting passage. a vote. The White House also says a potential government shutdown because of Republicans in the House of Representatives would harm rail safety.
The projects include track upgrades and bridge repairs, in addition to improving connectivity between railways and making routes less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.
Among the projects is $178.4 million to restore passenger service to parts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi along the Gulf of Mexico for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. in 2005.
“This is an important milestone, representing years of dedicated effort to reconnect our communities after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said in a statement. “Reestablishing passenger rail service will create jobs, improve quality of life and provide a convenient travel option for tourists, contributing to the economic growth and vitality of our region.
The grant is expected to help restore passenger service to the Gulf Coast after Amtrak reached an agreement last year with CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads to pave the way for passenger train operations to resume on tracks belonging to freight railways.
“We’ve been fighting to bring passenger trains back to the Gulf Coast since they were knocked out of service by Hurricane Katrina. This 17-year journey has been filled with obstacles and frustration, but also moments of joy, where local champions and national advocates were able to come together around the vision of a more connected Gulf Coast region.” , said the president of the Rail Passengers Association. & » said CEO Jim Mathews.
As part of one of the largest other grants, the Palouse River & Coulee City Railroad in Washington state will receive $72.8 million to upgrade the track and associated infrastructure to enable this rail line to handle modern 286,000-pound railcars.
A project in Kentucky will receive $29.5 million to improve 280 miles of railroad tracks and other infrastructure along the Paducah and Louisville Railroad.
And in Tennessee, $23.7 million will go toward upgrading about 42 bridges on 10 different short lines.