Two Kansas Projects Receive $47M in CRISI Funds

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor

TOPEKA, Kan. – Watco has been awarded a combined $47 million in federal funds for two rail projects.

Watco has been awarded a combined $47 million in federal funds. These funds will go toward rail improvement projects under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

The Pittsburg, Kansas-based company was awarded up to $15.7 million “to convert eight locomotives into fully battery-powered units.” The Neodesha Subdivision of the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad, or SKOL, will receive up to $31.2 million.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said: “Through public/private partnerships, we are stepping up to take advantage of once-in-a-generation infrastructure funding made available through BIL – resulting in big wins for Kansas. . . Congratulations to Watco for identifying and advancing short-line railroad projects that will improve operational efficiencies for the benefit of our farmers and rural communities.”

The two projects in Kansas are detailed as follows:

  1. kWat: Electrifying Watco Locomotives Project: A grant of up to $15,740,943, this funding will go toward a project that will involve “final design and construction to convert eight locomotives into fully battery-powered units to be deployed across Watco’s short-line railroads in varying operational and geographic environments. The project will improve system and service performance and reduce emissions and maintenance expenses. Watco is providing a 20% match.”
  2. Southeast Kansas Short Line Rail Upgrade and Growth Project: A grant of up to $31,225,484, this funding will “improve approximately 37 miles of South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad track, improving operations and capacity.” Funds via CRISI allow SKOL to “increase load-carrying capacity to meet customer demand. KDOT and SKOL will provide a 20% match.”

Watco CEO Dan Smith said: “The CRISI program will help us achieve greater efficiency for our customers on the SKOL Railroad and the opportunity to build new zero emissions locomotives to be deployed on the Kaw River Railroad. . . We have tremendous gratitude for our partnership with KDOT in helping secure this critical funding to make these improvements possible.”

The funding for the two rail improvement projects comes as part of a “$1.4 billion investment” from the FRA “into 70 rail improvement projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C.” According to the release, this is the “largest amount ever awarded for rail safety and rail supply chain upgrades through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program.” Almost 2/3 of CRISI funding are being invested in rural communities.

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