Rail projects to receive more than $170 million in TIGER grants (so far)

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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The TIGER grant awarded to Maine will support 54 percent of the Maine Regional Railways Project total cost of $37.3 million.
New Brunswick and Maine Railways

Elected officials sounded their victory horns as the notification process of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VII awards began.


State delegations in Maine, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota, Connecticut, Vermont and South Dakota all celebrated TIGER awards for rail projects.

Those projects look to be on the receiving end of close to $170.7 million in grants. However, that number could change, as USDOT has not issued any statement on the current round of awards.

The rail project TIGER awards announced thus far include:

  • $20 million to the state of Maine for the Maine Regional Railway Project to upgrade and rebuild 380 miles of track. The work includes installing new rail, ties, performing surfacing work and upgrading crossing and signal systems on the railroad mainlines in the state.
  • $18 million to the city of Buffalo, N.Y., for the Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project, which will reintroduce vehicular traffic to Main Street, as well as rebuild the Lower Main Street segment of the city’s Metro Rail line.
  • $16 million to New Jersey to replace the century-old Portal Bridge, a major chokepoint along the Northeast Corridor. The grant will be used to support early construction activities of the project including the realignment of a 138kV transmission monopole, constructing a temporary fiber optic cable pole line, building the northwest finger pier construction access structure, construction the a service access road and building a 560-foot retaining wall.
  • $15.2 million to the city of La Junta, Colo., for the Southwest Chief Route Advancement and Improvement Project that will allow the city of La Junta to continue the rehabilitation of the BNSF La Junta Subdivision in Colorado. The grant will also allow for the addition of approximately 39 miles of new continuously welded rail and repair more than 20 miles of roadbed with new ties and ballast on the Albuquerque Subdivision in New Mexico.
  • $15 million to the city of Tacoma, Wash., for the Tacoma LINK Expansion, which will expand the city’s streetcar line to double its current length and add several stations with improved bicycle and pedestrian access.
  • $14.2 million to the city of Milwaukee, Wis., to build the Milwaukee Streetcar’s Lakefront Line to connect Cathedral Square to the lakefront. The funds will build the line and purchase a single streetcar vehicle, as well as build a second track on St. Paul Avenue between North 2nd and 5th Streets.
  • $14 million to the Chicago area’s Metra to replace an existing rail bridge over the Fox River. A new double track bridge is expected to eliminate the bottleneck between freight rail and Metra’s Milwaukee District – West Line while upgrading technology that will allow for Positive Train Control (PTC) compliance.
  • $12.3 million to the Port of Hueneme in Oxnard, Calif., for intermodal improvements to the port including the deepening and strengthening of the wharfs and berths, modernizing cargo infrastructure and on-dock rail improvements.
  • $10 million to the city of Kalispell, Mont., for infrastructure improvements at the Glacier Rail Park and Kalispell Core Area Development and Train Project. The project will build rail and road infrastructure at Glacier Rail Park, as well as remove rail from downtown Kalispell.
  • $10 million will be used for the Willmar Rail Connector and Industrial Access project in Minnesota. The project will alleviate congestion, expand rail capacity and improve safety by upgrading Wilmar’s rail infrastructure.
  • $10 million to the Connecticut Department of Transportation for Barnum Station, a new commuter rail station that would serve Metro-North on the east side of Bridgeport.
  • $10 million to the Vermont Agency of Transportation to improve rail service along the state’s Western Corridor and help restore passenger service between Rutland and Burlington. The grant will be matched by state funds for the Western Vermont Freight-Passenger Rail Project. The project will improve service on the state-owned rail line between Rutland and Burlington by replacing track with new rail, ballast and ties; rehabilitating the Rutland Wye; adding new gates for public crossings, a new passing siding in Pitsford and a crossover in Leicester to allow for operational flexibility. The project will also include installation of new passenger platforms.
  • $6 million to the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) for two rail projects. SDDOT and Rapid City, Pierre, and Eastern (RCP&E) Railroad have partnered in a joint effort to construct a new track siding near Philip and much-needed track upgrades near Huron. SDDOT and RCP&E have committed $6.4 million. The addition of the TIGER award brings total committed funds for the project to $12.4 million.

Since 2009, the TIGER program has awarded $4.1 billion toward 342 transportation projects. In Fiscal Year 2015, USDOT had $500 million to award in TIGER grants. However, there were 625 applicants, requesting close to $10 billion.