LaHood signs $12.9 million Recovery Act grant

Work can begin on the Appalachian Regional Short-Line Rail project with the signing of a $12.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. “the stimulus”) grant, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced.

The signing took place Dec. 1 between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The project will improve infrastructure on five short-line railroads running through Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, benefiting several economically distressed counties.

“The Recovery Act is helping to create jobs, reinvigorate the economy and build a world-class transportation network that will allow businesses to grow, which is particularly important in hard-hit areas,” LaHood said in a press statement.

The project will rehabilitate hundreds of miles of track on five unconnected short-line railroads in the three states and includes grade crossing, bridge and tunnel improvements. Once complete, the improvements will speed up delivery time, allowing goods to reach their markets more quickly and at less cost.

“This project is about increasing efficiency to boost economic competiveness and make it easier for businesses to ship their products,” said Federal Highway Administrator (FHWA) Victor Mendez in a written statement. “It’s also about making better use of all transportation modes through targeted investment.”

The project is expected to encourage shippers to shift the transport of hazardous commodities and chemicals from truck to rail, increasing safety and reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants have been reserved for projects that help achieve the Department’s strategic transportation goals,” said Federal Railroad Administrator (FRA) Joseph C. Szabo. “They also embody the best aspects of public-private partnerships that yield positive benefits for all stakeholders.”

Tennessee also is receiving $2.8 million and West Virginia $1.7 million – bringing to $17.5 million the total grant for this project.

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The $17.5 million grant was awarded under the Recovery Act’s TIGER program. TIGER funding is designed to promote innovative, multimodal and multijurisdictional transportation projects that provide significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, region or the nation.

The Department announced the selection of $1.5 billion worth of TIGER grants for 51 projects as part of the one-year anniversary of the Recovery Act on February 17.