DOT grants awarded to Norfolk Southern, Utah short line

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WASHINGTON — The Salt Lake Garfield & Western, a short line that serves the northwestern section of Salt Lake City, and Norfolk Southern will receive more than $41 million in federal grant money under the Department of Transportation's Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program.

The projects comprise two of three INFRA grants that benefit railroads. The third is the $132 million grant that the Illinois Department of Transportation received for the 75th Street Corridor CREATE project in Chicago (Newswire June 5). The grant authorizations were announced June 5 in a letter from Secretary Elaine L. Chao to congressional leaders.

A portion of a $25 million grant will fund a new interchange to improve the short line’s access to the Union Pacific's Salt Lake City Intermodal Terminal, according to the letter. The project also will eliminate a grade crossing at the site. The majority of the grant will fund the widening of a highway on the city's west side. The estimated overall cost of the project is $111.7 million. The 127-year-old short line is expected to contribute $9.2 million to the project.

The Ohio Railroad Development Commission is receiving at $16.5 million grant for track upgrades on 30 miles of Norfolk Southern's River Line between Mingo Junction and Belmont County in the state's southeastern sector. The funds will also be used to increase capacity in yards at Mingo Junction Martin's Ferry.

The project, which will cost a total of $31.9 million and is expected to generate some 31 billion freight ton-miles over the next 30 years, according to an ORDC fact sheet. The line is being improved in connection with a proposed ethane cracking plant at Dilles Bottom in Belmont County, Ohio.

Other grant recipients will use federal funds to eliminate grade crossings, but the three rail projects are the only ones among 26 INFRA grants totaling $1.5 billion that the DOT authorized for fiscal 2018. INFRA is a rebranding of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015.
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