June 10, 2020

FRA Announces the Availability of $291 Million for Intercity Passenger Rail Infrastructure

Today the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced the availability of $291 million for repair and rehabilitate of intercity passenger railroad assets, the program being called the "Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grant Program" (Partnership Program). Of the total, $198 million is from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 and $93 million left over from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019. Since grant programs traditionally draw many more applications than funds appropriated, one can only wonder why the FRA has been falling short of distributing available monies.

A problem ESPA and other state passenger groups have is that no one knows if an application has been submitted since no list of applications is public record even after funds are awarded. In the past, NYSDOT was a regular grant submitter and often won awards. Lately, most successes have been related to NEC projects in NYC. But there are many upstate projects worthy of intercity passenger rail grants. For example, the grant could fund the Livingston Ave Bridge (LAB bridge); agreed upon improvements between New York City and Albany identified in the Empire Corridor DEIS and the 2005 Hudson Line Railroad Corridor Transportation Plan Report; and the renewal of platforms (including improving ADA compliance) as part of a Rhinecliff Station improvement project.

ESPA hopes that Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will not allow a great opportunity to fund continued investment in the infrastructure that is the foundation of our Upstate NY intercity rail passenger rail service. The current adminstration has made great strides in rebuilding the transport infrastucture of New York State — including the Tappan Zee Bridge and La Guardia Airport — and the Empire Corridor offers several major projects that will improve the relability and quality of Amtrak service for the traveling publlic, greatly enhance the business climate and quality of life of Upstate NY.

— Anthony Rudmann, ESPA Director of Legislative Affairs