The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) today announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) making available nearly $9 billion in funding to upgrade and expand passenger rail services along the Northeast Corridor (NEC). These funds will be issued through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program (Partnership Program), which grew to $36 billion over the next five years thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Today’s investment will fund projects of national and regional significance, improving infrastructure, equipment, and facilities, including bridges and tunnels, rail stations, and track. This investment will help improve reliability and result in fewer delays for the over 200 million annual trips taken by commuters and intercity passenger riders on the Northeast Corridor.
“Every day, hundreds of thousands of Americans rely on the Northeast Corridor, our country’s busiest rail route,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Americans deserve to have the best rail system in the world, and the investments we are announcing today will serve to modernize the Northeast Corridor for generations of passengers.”
The Northeast Corridor, stretching from Washington, D.C. to Boston, is one of the highest-volume rail lines in the world. The area it spans accounts for 20 percent of our nation’s GDP. The number of Americans utilizing the corridor continues to grow, approaching pre-pandemic levels, with Amtrak ridership alone more than doubling in the last 12 months to 9.2 million passengers annually.
Administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Partnership Program is a competitive discretionary grant program that has supported the rehabilitation and renewal of intercity passenger rail infrastructure for years. Most recently, the program advanced project development and construction for major bridge replacement projects, including the Susquehanna River Bridge in Maryland, the Connecticut River Bridge, and the Portal Bridge in New Jersey.
The NEC Project Inventory, which FRA issued in November, will guide investments under the Partnership Program and promote a transparent, systematic, long-term strategy for growing the NEC. It prioritizes key projects for funding, such as the repair and modernization of major bridges and tunnels – all of which are over a century old – which include the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel in Maryland, the Walk Bridge in Connecticut, and the Hudson Tunnel in New Jersey, part of the Gateway Program.
“Today’s investments are a major step towards reversing a half-century of underinvestment in vital rail infrastructure and will result in fewer delays for millions of riders and travelers,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “The expanded Partnership Program funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will ensure that the Northeast Corridor thrives as the region’s economic and transportation backbone, while making its services more reliable, available, and accessible to even more people.”
Earlier this month, FRA also made nearly $2.3 billion available through the Partnership Program for intercity and high-speed rail projects nationwide. Taken together, more than $11 billion in passenger rail funds have been made available in the first round of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
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