While passenger trains are
still at least two years away from running on a "Three-C" corridor
for which Ohio has obtained federal stimulus money, state officials have begun
looking at what they hope will be a second phase, which would include two
Toledo routes. The Toledo Blade reports that the Ohio Rail Development
Commission has signed a $7.8 million contract with AECOM, a Los Angeles
engineering firm, to assess what would need to be done to institute 110-mph
passenger trains on four routes, including Detroit-Toledo-Cleveland and
(Editor's note: This story
updates a story posted on this Website July 13.) Mayor Richard J. Berry said
that the City of Albuquerque has been awarded $6.72 million from the U.S.
Department of Transportation to build the Montaño Intermodal Center. The center
will provide a new connection between ABQ Ride buses and the New Mexico Rail
Runner Express commuter train near the intersection of Montaño and 2nd St.
The Public Utilities
Commission of Ohio has approved upgrades at railroad crossings in Fayette and
Ross counties, The Gazette reports. The Norfolk Southern crossing at East
Second Street in Chillicothe and the Indiana and Ohio Railway crossing at
Oakland Avenue in Washington Court House will receive upgrades that include
flashing lights and roadway gates through federal funds.
BNSF recently paid Buchanan
County, Mo., $50,000 to close a railroad crossing off Missouri Highway 45 by
Sugar Lake, the St. Joseph, Mo., News-Press reports.
July 16-18, Washington, D.C.'s
Metro will make upgrades to its track, platforms and bridges on the Red, Blue
and Yellow lines to improve reliability and service. As a result of this
crucial work aimed at keeping the railroad in a state of good repair, riders
can expect delays of up to 40 minutes.
Wabtec Corp. has signed
an agreement to acquire G&B Specialties, Inc., and Bach-Simpson Corp. from
Global Railway Industries Ltd., for about $45 million. Subject to the
fulfillment of certain conditions, the purchase of G&B Specialties is
expected to close by July 31, and the Bach-Simpson purchase is expected to
close by Oct. 31. Wabtec expects the acquisitions to be accretive in the first
The Chicago Transit Board passed
a resolution supporting the Chicago Transit Authority's commitment to further
develop and implement meaningful and proactive accessibility initiatives
consistent with the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The
resolution is in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the landmark piece of
legislation enacted on July 26, 1990. The Board also approved the appointment
of new 2010 ADA Advisory Committee members.
Metro Blue Line
passengers in Los Angeles will experience travel delays of up to 40 minutes this coming
weekend beginning Friday night, July 16, due to construction of the Expo light
rail line, which will connect with the Metro Blue Line in downtown Los Angeles.
Special Metro Bus service will parallel the train route during the construction
Norfolk Southern rejects
North Charleston, S.C., Mayor Keith Summey's plan to kick its trains out of key
up-and-coming neighborhoods at the company's expense, and the railroad's
officials say there's nothing he can do about it, The Post and Courier reports.
BNSF has pulled out of
the application process for federal stimulus money to help build a railroad
bypass on the west edge of Willmar, Minn., the West Central Tribune reports. In
a letter sent to city officials, the railroad said that after a further review
of the application guidelines, it saw "no possibility" that BNSF would be able
to obtain a planning grant for the proposed multimillion-dollar project.
Local officials said they're
disappointed with the turn of events.
disappointment is the loss of what we thought were the benefits," said Steve
Renquist, executive director of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar
Economic Development Partnership.
The proposed project
would have shifted the Morris-to-Marshall subdivision traffic out of Willmar's
central rail yard and routed it to a bypass on the west edge of town. The move
would have opened up rail access to Willmar's industrial park. It also could
have enhanced the possibility of cargo service at the Willmar Municipal
Airport, as well as position the city for a light-rail commuter train service.
City officials had in
fact been discussing the options with BNSF on and off for "a number of years,"
said Bruce Peterson, community development director for the city of Willmar.
"The main thing was to
get that western bypass," he said.
With the shelving of the
application process for a stimulus planning grant, "the local impact is
significant," Peterson said. "It makes it extremely difficult to get access to
the expanded industrial park."
Construction of a rail
bypass would have required a massive financial investment - an estimated $33
million to $58 million, including not only the cost of construction but land
acquisition, permits and environmental reviews as well. The scope of the
project is such that neither local government nor BNSF could have financed a
rail bypass on its own, Peterson said.
The availability of
stimulus funding for transportation projects created a unique and perhaps
one-time chance to apply for outside funding, Renquist said.
"The window of
opportunity opens and closes. Nobody knows how long it's going to stay open,"
The timeline for
decision-making also was short. Preliminary grant applications are due at the
end of July. Final applications are due in August, and grant awards are
supposed to be announced in October.
But after reviewing the
guidelines again, BNSF officials told the city this week that in order to be in
the running for a planning grant through the National Infrastructure
Investments Competitive Grant Fund, the railroad would have had to obtain a
significant level of non-federal funding for the project. BNSF is "simply not
in a position to make that commitment," railroad officials said in their
notification to the city.
Local support for the
project was strong. As recently as last week, the operating board of the
Economic Development Commission voted to commit $50,000. The Willmar City
Council also was prepared to consider making a financial commitment.
Renquist said he hopes it
sends a signal to BNSF that local officials want to continue the discussion.
"The stimulus program isn't
over yet," he said. "We don't quietly go into the good night. Under the right
circumstances, this could be a project they'd still like to do."
"We'll maintain contact
with BNSF and keep trying to do whatever is possible and affordable," Peterson