Nearly $35.9 million in state funding has been approved for rail freight improvements. The grants will help support about 34,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.
“Freight rail is actually very important in Pennsylvania, because we have the highest number of short-line railroads in the entire country, and we’re in the top five as far as the number of miles we have of track,” said Penndot spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt, “so we need to keep investing in those resources, because they support good paying jobs and they keep goods moving through our state.”
In Allegheny County $8.4 million in grants will go to rehabilitating railroad bridges, repairing and installing new track, and installing and upgrading other rail components.
Since January 2011 Pennsylvania has invested $167 million in the rail industry, but Waters-Trasatt says it is necessary because of the ownership of the land and because of the demand for trains in our state.
“A lot of the infrastructure is a partnership of public and private entities," said Waters-Trasatt. "Some of these are owned by companies. Some of these are government consortiums that are submitting for these, but there’s always a place for public investment in resources that are ultimately benefitting all of us.”
These projects are cleared to being once grant agreements are finalized and local match funding is in place, so projects could start this year, according to Waters-Trasatt.