Thursday, October 25, 2012

Feds award $18.5 million to upgrade rail and port infrastructure in South Jersey

Feds award $18.5 million to upgrade rail and port infrastructure in South Jersey Photo courtesy of the South Jersey Port Corporation.

The South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC) and its partners signed an $18.5 million federal stimulus grant October 23 that will create thousands of jobs by upgrading freight rail from South Jersey into the market heartland of America.

The funds come from a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) III grant.

The SJPC formed an alliance with Salem County and Conrail, leveraging their collective $117 million in infrastructure investments to qualify for the $18.5 million in federal stimulus money from the U.S. Department of Transportation. It translates into 1,700 construction jobs and thousands of long-term jobs into the future.

The SJPC ocean terminals in Camden, Paulsboro and Salem have direct access to the major interstate highways that can reach out to 100 million consumers within 24 hours and 75 percent of the population of the United States and Canada within 48 hours. The rail improvements will give the SJPC terminals, with ship-side rail capacity, an enhanced capability to the North America rail network and markets for its customers, including the west coast.

The SJPC terminals in Camden and Salem and the soon-to-be opened Paulsboro Marine Terminal are key to the development of southern New Jersey. The 42-mile rail freight line from Port Salem, through Swedesboro, Paulsboro, Camden and to Delair bridge, connecting it to the national rail network, will be upgraded. And a new two-mile connection to the new docks under construction in the Paulsboro Marine Terminal will be built. The train speed along the 18-mile line from Swedesboro to Salem, which is currently limited to five mph because of track conditions, will be upgraded.

The Delaware River Rail/Port Improvement Project is divided into three components, starting with Conrail's Delair Bridge approach rehabilitation utilizing $12.5 million of the grant with a $12.5 million match. The Salem County component is comprised of two projects: the Oldmans Trestle Rail Bridge replacement at a cost of $3.5 million, including a local match of $500,000 and the Salem Running Track rehabilitation at a cost of $1.55 million and a local match of $750,000. The SJPC component is the Paulsboro At-Grade Rail Infrastructure at a cost of $3.2 million with a local match of $1 million. This component leverages the ongoing construction of the new Paulsboro Marine Terminal, which will have on-dock rail capability to service ships with rail service directly.

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