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The Transportation Department also says it plans to open the grant-making process this fall for $7.2 billion in passenger rail funding available under the infrastructure law.
Eleven intercity passenger rail projects in eight states will share in roughly $233 million in grants that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded on Thursday—and a bigger round of funding is on the way.
The projects are located in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. Some of the bigger grants on the list include up to:
- $65 million to replace a bridge over the Connecticut River in Connecticut.
- $45 million for design work for the replacement of a pair of 110-year-old bridges near Newark, New Jersey.
- $28 million for a platform overhaul in Rhinecliff, New York, north of New York City.
Trains run by Amtrak as well as commuter rail operators travel along the lines where the upgrades will take place.
The money comes from the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair program. The infrastructure law President Biden signed last year made changes to the program and renamed it the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail program.
DOT in its announcement said it will release a notice of funding opportunity this fall for $7.2 billion available under it. That amount will be available annually for the next five years, for a total of $36 billion. A Congressional Research Service brief from earlier this year points out that the grants makes up the bulk of federal funding available for expanding passenger rail routes.
In a report issued last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers pegged the repair backlog for passenger rail in the U.S. at about $45.2 billion. The group says that along the busiest section of the nation's passenger network—the Northeast Corridor—"infrastructure-related issues" caused 328,000 train-delay minutes during 2019.
The portion of the Federal-State Partnership grants that can go to projects in the Northeast Corridor, which handles about 260 million passenger trips annually, according to Amtrak, is capped at $24 billion.
A list of the 11 projects awarded funding this week can be found here.
Bill Lucia is executive editor for Route Fifty.