USDOT: $31.4MM for SNR, MRY

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on Jan. 29 announced that its Build America Bureau has provided a $31.4 million Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan to Sierra Northern Railway (SNR) and Mendocino Railway (MRY) to expand and rehabilitate rail infrastructure in the Central Valley and Mendocino County, Calif.

By providing RRIF and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans, the Build America Bureau helps communities expedite infrastructure projects and reduce project costs.

According to USDOT, the loan finances nearly 100% of the planned improvements, including SNR expansion of 6.7 miles of Oakdale Branch track for engine and carriage storage, MRY rehabilitation of Noyo Canyon Tunnel No. 1, and 27 bridges and 40 miles of track.

“USDOT is pleased to support this important project in California that will increase safety, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and improve freight service benefitting the entire region,” said Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing in clean transportation and enhancing supply chains.” 

According to USDOT, the project should be complete in 2027 and will provide many benefits to the community, including:

  • “Increased safety, operating capacity, efficiency.
  • “Reduction of derailments and grade-crossing incidents.
  • “Reduced congestion and air pollution on local roads and highways.”

The RRIF program, USDOT says, maintains a $7 billion set-aside to support small railroads like SNR and MRY. This is the Build America’s Bureau’s first loan to a Class III railroad since it was created in 2016. In total, USDOT has closed $7.6 billion RRIF loans, $39.8 billion in TIFIA financings, supporting more than $143 billion in infrastructure investment across the country.

“Sierra’s and Mendocino’s RRIF loan will help modernize the rail line, which will greatly enhance existing freight service and make the railroad more attractive to new freight customers.” said Build America Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian, Ph.D. “We are pleased that a short-line railroad has been able to take advantage of our low-interest financing and deliver improvements that might not have been possible otherwise.”

“We appreciate the Bureau and all their hard work helping us with the RRIF loan,” said Sierra Northern Railway President Kennan H. Beard III. “This project will provide the region with new construction jobs and greatly benefit the Central Valley.”

“The RRIF loan helps enhance our freight and passenger services in Mendocino County by providing additional jobs, improving safety, lowering emissions, and advancing our regional transportation options,” said Mendocino Railway President Robert Jason Pinoli.

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