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Missouri commission approves rail projects

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  Provide more reliable rail service. Eventually produce faster travel times. That's exactly what the Missouri Department of Transportation seeks to do in making applications for a portion of $8 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding set aside for high-speed rail development.

 

The Missouri Highways and
Transportation Commission gave its stamp of approval to add 11 rail projects
totaling $201.3 million to the current five-year Statewide Transportation
Improvement Program. These projects will be included in MoDOT’s final
application to the Federal Railroad Administration for the competitive
High-Speed/Intercity Passenger Rail grants created by the ARRA. Application
deadlines are Aug. 24 for four projects and Oct. 2 for the remaining seven.

 

"We have heard loud
and clear from Missourians that passenger rail service has to be
reliable," said Brian Weiler, MoDOT’s Multimodal Operations Director.
"Together MoDOT, Union Pacific and Amtrak are making good, steady progress
in improving the St. Louis to Kansas City rail corridor. These grants could
provide the down payment Missouri needs to further enhance both passenger and
freight movement, but we’re going to have some strong competition."

 

According to Weiler, 40
states have made pre-applications for projects totaling $103 billion, nearly 12
times the amount available.

 

The type of high-speed
rail project Missouri plans to develop is one that would make the train service
on the existing Union Pacific line faster over time. These improvements will
enhance the capacity of the current system and will be done incrementally as
funding becomes available and planning and design work in cooperation with
Union Pacific is completed.

 

These new projects will
also complement several recent and ongoing improvements like construction of a
double track at the Gasconade River Bridge funded by Union Pacific last fall
and the new passing siding under construction near California, Mo. to be
completed in November with two-thirds state and one-third federal funds.

 

The 11 rail improvement
projects for which MoDOT is seeking ARRA funding include:

1. Knob Noster Passing
Siding Extension ($8,500,000): Project would extend existing siding to 9,000
feet and break up a 27-mile segment with no usable siding.

2. Webster Universal
Crossover ($4,400,000): Project would increase ability to sort freight and
passenger trains into and out of the St. Louis area.

3. Second Rail Bridge
over Osage River ($33,800,000): Project would eliminate train delay caused by
single-track bottleneck over bridge and reduce maintenance flexibility by
adding crossovers.

4. Rail Crossing Safety
Improvements ($3,600,000): Project would upgrade 13 crossings and close two,
mostly west of Sedalia.

5. Double Track Lee’s Summit
to Pleasant Hill ($56,600,000): Project would complete double-track and signal
upgrades to increase Amtrak train speed from 79 to 90 mph at this segment.

6. Kingsville Passing
Siding ($11,500,000): Project would break up 25-mile segment with no passing
siding.

7. Hermann Universal
Crossover ($5,200,000): Project would close an 18.2-mile gap on double main
line track with no crossovers.

8. Third Mainline Track
in Jefferson City Yard ($9,700,000): Project would increase fluidity through
the Jefferson City yard by maintaining bi-directional freight operations with
Amtrak operations.

9. Real-Time Passenger
Information Displays ($3,000,000): Project would install displays at eight
intermediate stations to provide general train status information.

10. Strasburg Grade
Separation ($15,000,000): Project would construct an overpass and remove a
current at-grade crossing at Route E.

11. New Locomotive and
Coach Equipment ($50,000,000): Seek to purchase two new sets of locomotives and
passenger equipment for use on the St. Louis to Kansas City route. (Application
is part of the state of Wisconsin’s application)

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