DOT Digest: FRA Announces Eleven Research and Infrastructure Grants; and Solicits Applications for Rail Relocation Grant Program
Friday, September 12, 2008 (Washington, D.C.)
DOT Agency Awards Contract to Battle Invasive Species . The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration has awarded a $350,000 contract to the Northwest-Midwest Institute’s Great Ships Initiative. The requirements of the contract are to design and validate a ballast sampling method that is reliable, replicable, and cost-effective for both ship owner and the regulatory community. It will also be used to develop appropriate protocols for ballast water discharge sampling. The Great Ships Initiative is a collaborative effort to end the problem of ship-mediated introductions of invasive species in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System. Contact: Susan Clark (202) 366-5807.
Federal Agency to Partner with Port of New Bedford for Environmental Study . The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration will donate $150,000 in a partnership with the Port of New Bedford, MA to see if having ships use shore-generated electricity while in port cuts down on air pollution. The use of shore power, also called cold ironing, has been offered as a possible opportunity to reduce emissions from vessels. This new collaborative partnership sets out to examine more closely the efficiency of shore-based power. It focuses on port service or areas where shore power may realistically be used and on alternative energy sources that will be better for the environment. Contact: Susan Clark (202) 366-5807.
FRA Joins Norfolk Southern in Research of Battery Powered Electric Locomotives . The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding a $50,000 grant to Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) to support the railroad’s effort to design a prototype battery powered electric locomotive which can reduce emissions and lower fuel costs. The grant funds will be used to design the lead-acid battery packaging system and perform Failure Modes and Effects Analysis to address potential safety risks associated with the high voltages and electric current arising from large numbers of batteries cabled together. The technology is being developed for locomotives used in rail yard switching operations. In addition, NS is providing $65,000 toward this project. Contact: Warren Flatau (202) 493-6024.
FRA Continues Research into Train Wheel/Rail Interaction . The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding a $250,000 grant to the National Research Council of Canada to continue ongoing cooperative research into the interaction between the wheels of locomotives and railcars and the track they operate over. The purpose of the research is to prevent train derailments resulting from issues such as a wheel climbing over the rail when moving through track curves. The work will examine the problems of rolling contact fatigue and will assess wheel/rail profiles, friction and lubrication, rail grinding maintenance practices, as well as determining the relationship between vehicle response and track geometry input. Contact: Rob Kulat (202) 493-6024.
Washington DOT Receives FRA Grants for Produce Rail Car Leasing Program, Track Upgrades . The Washington Department of Transportation is receiving two grants from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The first is in the amount of $990,000 to support an ongoing state program that leases 30 refrigerated rail cars to agricultural producers of perishable food products. The grant funds will be used to extend the existing program to the year 2014. The second grant is for $754,600 for various infrastructure improvements on the City of Tacoma-owned Tacoma Rail operation. Specifically, the funds will be used to inspect and repair three rail bridges and two highway-rail grade crossings as well as replace cross ties along a 16-mile section of track from Frederickson and McKenna. Contact: Steve Kulm (202) 493-6024.
FRA Grant to West Virginia University Continues Research into Strengthening Railroad Crossties . West Virginia University at Morgantown is receiving a $191,100 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to continue research into upgrading or rehabilitating deteriorated wooden railroad crossties with thermoplastic reinforcements. The grant funds will specifically be used to manufacture and perform full-scale field-testing of the crossties under normal rail traffic conditions on the South Branch Valley Railroad as well as subject them to freeze-thaw cycles. The results of the research may be applied to strengthen materials used for timber constructed railroad bridges. Contact: Rob Kulat (202) 493-6024.
New England Central Railroad Receives FRA Grants for Bridge and Tunnel Upgrades . The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding two grants to the New England Central Railroad (NECR). The railroad will receive $960,000 with the NECR is providing $240,000 in matching funds for structural repairs to a 1860s vintage rail tunnel located in Burlington, Vermont. The repairs include removing old brick, installing tunnel liner, and improving drainage which is intended to extend the life of the tunnel by up to 20 years. The tunnel is located on a branch line of the railroad which has a critical rail interchange with the Vermont Railway that serves northern Vermont. The second grant is in the amount of $2,746,240 to support the installation of equipment to automate the operation of the NECR swing bridge that crosses the Richelieu River near East Alburg, Vermont. The project will improve railroad efficiency by reducing the time currently needed to manually operate the bridge and will facilitate an increase in commercial and recreational river traffic. The NECR is providing $686,560 in matching funds for the project. Contact: Warren Flatau (202) 493-6024.
Portland & Western Railroad to Use FRA Grants for Bridge and Track Work . The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding two grants to the Portland & Western Railroad (PNWR). The first is $129,431 to supplement a larger, ongoing project to replace over eight miles of track between Willamina and Whiteson, Oregon with continuous welded rail capable of handling heavier rail car loads and accommodating higher train speeds. These federal funds will be used specifically to rehabilitate a siding and improve several highway-rail grade crossings. The PNWR is providing $32,358 in matching funds for this project. The second grant is in the amount of $1,386,766 to continue work on a project to replace a one-half mile long wooden bridge approach to an existing steel bridge over the Willamette River near Albany, Oregon. PNWR is providing $346,766 in matching funds for this project. Contact: Rob Kulat (202) 493-6024.
FRA Grant Supports Highway-Rail Project in Vicksburg, MS . The City of Vicksburg, MS, is receiving a $4.3 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to make significant improvements where the Washington Street highway bridge crosses over Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) tracks. The project involves constructing a tunnel for KCS trains above which the existing highway bridge will be removed and replaced with an at-grade roadway. As a result, heavy trucks can resume operating on Washington Street, KCS will straighten its right-of-way, and a new connector road will be built to accommodate the closure of the Lee Street highway-rail grade crossing. The City of Vicksburg is contributing $1 million to this project and KCS is providing $500,000. Contact: Warren Flatau (202) 493-6024.
FRA to Study Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Locomotive Crews . The potential for locomotive crews to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when involved in highway-rail grade crossing accidents and trespasser incidents where individuals may be severely or fatally injured is a growing concern. As such, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding a $100,000 grant to the American Association of Suicidology to determine the prevalence of PTSD in, and the current and best practices in the railroad industry for the treatment of, locomotive engineers and other train crew members following such events. Contact: Steve Kulm (202) 493-6024.
Marshall University Receives FRA Grant to Test Mobile Integrated Track Technology . Marshall University in West Virginia is receiving a $286,650 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to demonstrate and test the integration of different track inspection technologies on a mobile platform or high-rail vehicle to assist rail inspectors in identifying track flaws. The project will combine high-accuracy differential GPS with technologies that can evaluate subsurface areas under the track ballast, identify potential track buckling locations, measure track gage widths, and assess weak rail segments among other capabilities. Marshall University is partnering with CSX Transportation in the performance of this project. Contact: Rob Kulat (202) 493-6024.
Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad Receives FRA Grant for Bridge Replacement Project . The Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad (BPRR) is receiving a $245,000 from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a railroad bridge replacement project located between Karns City and Bruin, PA. The Chicora Bridge project will replace a 13-foot deteriorating wood pile bridge with a new concrete box culvert that will increase the capacity of the bridge to support heavier railcars. Grant funds will also be used to perform safety inspections on four other BPRR bridges along the same rail line. Contact: Warren Flatau (202) 493-6024.
Illinois Commerce Commission Receives FRA Grant for Grade Crossing Safety and Enforcement Study . The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding a $490,000 grant to the Illinois Commerce Commission to continue the Public Education and Enforcement Research Study (PEERS) to improve highway-rail grade crossing safety. The funds will support an expansion of the PEERS effort that provides funding to railroads, safety-related non-profit agencies, and at least 26 cities and towns in Illinois that are implementing customized public outreach and awareness programs and enforcement blitzes targeted to reduce or eliminate pedestrian and motor vehicle grade crossing violations. Contact: Warren Flatau (202) 493-6024.
FRA to Accept Applications for Rail Relocation and Improvement Grant Program . On September 15, 2008, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will begin accepting applications for the $14.9 million available in capital grants under the new Rail Line Relocation and Improvement program. In order to be eligible for grant funding, a project must mitigate the adverse effects of rail traffic on safety, motor vehicle traffic flow, community quality of life or involve a lateral or vertical relocation of any portion of the rail line. A state or other eligible entity will be required to pay at least 10 percent of the shared costs of the project. Applications can be submitted until the earlier of November 28, 2008, or the date on which all available funds will have been committed. Click here /Pages/2008.shtml for more details. Contact: Steve Kulm (202) 493-6024.