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FRA awards more than $16 billion for NEC rail projects

News | November 22, 2023 | By:

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently awarded $16.4 billion to 25 passenger rail projects along the Northeast Corridor or NEC, a critical passenger and freight railroad line serving the Northeast U.S.’s five major metropolitan regions – Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

FRA Administrator Amit Bose. Photo courtesy of AASHTO.

“[These] investments are already creating jobs, impacting communities, and laying the foundation for world-class passenger rail in America,” noted FRA Administrator Amit Bose in a statement.

“[This] federal funding … will replace or repair vital NEC infrastructure that has been in need of major upgrades for decades,” he added. “That means at least 800,000 daily riders will, in the future, experience fewer delays, faster service, and greater convenience on America’s busiest rail corridor.”

National passenger railroad operator Amtrak received nearly $10 billion of those FRA grants to directly support 12 Amtrak-led projects through the FRA’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program:

Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program (up to $4.7 billion)

Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project (up to $2.08 billion)

East River Tunnel Rehabilitation Project (up to $1.26 billion)

Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project (up to $826.6 million)

Dock Bridge Rehabilitation Project (up to $300.1 million)

Sawtooth Bridges Replacement Project (up to $133.3 million)

Baltimore Penn Station Redevelopment (up to $108.3 million)

Pelham Bay Bridge Replacement Project (up to $58.2 million)

Gunpowder River Bridge Replacement Program (up to $30 million)

NEC South End Infrastructure Renewal and Speed Improvement Planning Study (up to $21.6 million)

Bush River Bridge Replacement Program (up to $18.8 million)

New Haven to Providence Capacity Planning Study (up to $4 million)

“Those grants will help advance Amtrak’s plans to modernize the NEC and unlock major bottlenecks on the busiest passenger rail corridor in America,” noted Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner in a separate statement. He added that those grants – funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA – reflect a “vision” for expanded and improved passenger rail across the United States.

For example, Amtrak noted it received nearly $200 million out of roughly $1.4 billion FRA awarded to 70 railroad improvement projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C., in September through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements or CRISI grant program.

Amtrak said it has also submitted additional federal grant applications to improve its long distance and state-supported services through the FRA’s Corridor ID Program and separate Fed-State Partnership Program funding for projects outside the NEC – grant awards Amtrak said it expects will be issued later this year.

NEC projects overseen or assisted by state departments of transportation also received funding from this $16 billion-plus tranche of FRA grants. For example, the Connecticut Department of Transportation is receiving over $1 billion to support a variety of NEC projects under its purview: Up to $465 million for the Walk Bridge Replacement Project; up to $245.9 million for the Devon Bridge Replacement Project; up to $122.8 million for the New Haven Line Power Improvement Program; up to $119.3 million for Devon Bridge Interim Repairs; up to $104.8 million for the Hartford Line Rail Program Double Track (Phase 3B) Project; up to $71.6 million for its New Haven Line Track Improvement and Mobility Enhancement Project Part 1 and 3; up to $23.2 million for the Saugatuck River Bridge Replacement Project; and up to $15.4 million for the New Haven Line Network Infrastructure Upgrade Project.

“This grant funding helps address a backlog of major projects and improvements that will help enhance the safety and reliability of rail service, offer operational flexibility, and provide for increased capacity, speed, and efficiencies of rail transportation along the entire Northeast Corridor,” noted Garrett Eucalitto, commissioner of the Connecticut DOT.

Garrett Eucalitto at microphone. Photo courtesy of the Connecticut DOT.

“We’re building a comprehensive transportation network that provides safe and accessible mobility for every Marylander across every mode, and that means modernized, efficient passenger rail service,” added Paul Wiedefeld, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

“Our partners at the federal level and at Amtrak know the importance of fast, reliable passenger rail service to provide residents with transportation mobility and economic mobility,” he added. “This package reflects a tremendous investment in that vision.”

“The NEC transportation network is a vital component of the region and nation’s economy, and these projects will advance our collective goals around climate, economic growth, and mobility,” noted Monica Tibbits-Nutt, acting secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

“This funding will further support our economic growth and mobility in the region and throughout the Northeast Corridor,” noted Mike Carroll, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “This is another example of the Biden Administration’s transformative approach to infrastructure in Pennsylvania and beyond.” Information courtesy of AASHTO.

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