As part of the Obama administration's plan to create a national network of high-speed passenger-rail lines, the Department of Transportation earlier this week awarded $87.2 million in funding to improve the rail infrastructure in Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont.
The funding will go toward upgrades of the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut's New Haven-Springfield line, Maine's Downeaster route and the Vermonter service, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
"These are the kinds of investments that will improve reliability and on-time performance and attract more passengers," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a news release. "We are creating jobs throughout New England, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the New England economy."
The funding and the receiving agencies include:
- Rhode Island Department of Transportation -- $26.2 million for the design and construction of an electrified third track parallel to the Northeast Corridor's main line, and a new platform for the station in Kingston, R.I. The third track will reduce congestion and improve on-time performance for Amtrak and commuter trains, the Federal Railroad Administration said.
- Rhode Island Department of Transportation -- $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental reviews for American with Disabilities Act-compliant platforms at the Providence station on the Northeast Corridor. The project also includes improved parking and pedestrian access; station repairs; potential reconfiguration of transit circulation and drop-off facilities; and future tunnel improvements.
- Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority -- $20.8 million to alleviate congestion and reduce delays on segments of Amtrak's Downeaster service. The project will provide double track and improve signals and highway-rail grade crossings between Wilmington and Ballardville, Mass. It also will replace aging rail with new, continuously welded rail between Lawrence and Bradford, Mass.
- Connecticut Department of Transportation -- $30 million for 6 miles of new double tracks from Hartford to Windsor, Conn., which will connect with an existing siding to create a 9-mile double-tracks segment on Amtrak's New Haven-Springfield line. In addition, a new 8,500-foot siding will be added through the Hartford Yard to better clear freight trains off Amtrak's main line. The project also includes repairs and maintenance to bridges; signal improvements; and grade-crossing improvements.
- Vermont Agency of Transportation -- $2.7 million for a 16-mile extension of improved signal and train-control technology to enhance the safety and operation of the Amtrak Vermonter service. The funding also will go toward upgrades to the dispatch communication system.