Effort to launch second Chicago-Twin Cities Amtrak train receives $31.8 million grant

Latest batch of CRISI grant announcements also address pedestrian crossings in Michigan, landslide mitigation in Washington state
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The Empire Builder heads west out of Portage, Wis., in August 2020. Efforts to start a second daily train on the Chicago-Twin Cities portion of the Builder route are receiving a federal grant.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Commissioners in Ramsey County, Minn., say the effort to launch a second daily train between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago will be the recipient of a $31.8 million federal grant. The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports an official announcement of the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected later this week. The money will complete final design work to infrastructure needed to accommodate the second train, as well as construction of track, signal, and bridge improvements. Matching funds from Minnesota ($10 million), Wisconsin ($6.2 million) and Amtrak ($5 million) will also go toward the project, which would extend one existing Hiawatha round trip to serve the Twin Cities.

In other CRISI grants announced by politicians in the areas receiving funding:

— The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive $15.6 million to improve pedestrian crossings between Dearborn and Kalamazoo along Amtrak’s Michigan Line, which aims to eventually host 110-mph operation. The route has seen 12 pedestrians struck by trains in the last four years, in addition to a number of near-misses.

— The Washington State Department of Transportation has received a $3.7 million grant for landslide mitigation north of Seattle. MyEdmondsNews.com reports the grant, to be matched by state and private funding, will address a slide-prone area south of Mukilteo, Wash., that often leads to service interruptions on a line served by 14 passenger trains and an average of 21 freight trains per day. The money will go toward the third phase of a program that began in 2016.

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