This program leverages private, state and local investments to support safety enhancements and general improvements to infrastructure for both intercity passenger and freight railroads. The U.S. rail network is central to the success of the American economy, carrying more than 1.8 billion tons of freight valued at more than $830 billion annually, and over 32.5 million passengers on Intercity Rail Passenger Transportation services. Both services primarily operate over privately-owned and maintained infrastructure, allowing for strong private, capital market investment that generates public benefit, including public-private partnerships among other models.
Rural transportation networks play a vital role in supporting our national economic vitality. Addressing the deteriorating conditions and disproportionately high fatality rates on our rural transportation infrastructure is of critical interest to DOT, as rural transportation networks face unique challenges in safety, infrastructure condition, and passenger and freight usage. Consistent with the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (R.O.U.T.E.S.) Initiative, DOT will consider how the project will address the challenges faced by rural areas.
DOT is committed to addressing the unmet transportation infrastructure needs of rural areas. Underinvestment in rural transportation systems has allowed a slow and steady decline in the transportation routes that connect rural American communities to each other and to the rest of the country, fraying the fabric of American interconnectivity. A majority of the nation’s rail route miles are in rural America. Investment is necessary to grow rural economies, facilitate freight movement, improve access to reliable and affordable transportation options and enhance access to healthcare and safety for residents.
DOT also recognizes the importance of applying life cycle asset management principles throughout America’s infrastructure. It is important for rail infrastructure owners and operators, as well as those who may apply on their behalf, to plan for the maintenance and replacement of assets and the associated costs.
Congress authorized this grant program for the Secretary to invest in a wide range of projects within the United States to improve railroad safety, efficiency, and reliability; mitigate congestion at both intercity passenger and freight rail chokepoints; enhance multi-modal connections; and lead to new or substantially improved intercity passenger rail transportation corridors. Rail safety projects include, but are not limited to, grade crossing enhancements, rail line relocations and improvements, and deployment of railroad safety technology. Eligible work also includes: Regional rail and corridor planning, environmental analyses, and research, workforce development, and training.