Amtrak, CHSRA Awarded Nearly $400MM in CRISI Grants

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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Amtrak and partners have been awarded nearly $200 million from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) competitive grant program while the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) will receive nearly $202 million.

The grant announcements came on Sept. 25 and are part of the $1.4 billion that the FRA will invest into 70 rail improvement projects in 25 states and Washington, D.C.

According to Amtrak, the funding will support four projects in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), which travels through eight states and the District of Columbia, and the Gulf Coast States.

  • Gulf Coast Corridor Improvement Project (up to $178,435,333): This project will allow Amtrak, in cooperation with the Southern Rail Commission, to begin twice-daily service next year between Mobile and New Orleans. The grant covers development, final design, and construction activities for various track and signal-related improvements, upgrades to grade crossings, and improvements to stations while maintaining freight service reliability along the Gulf Coast Corridor. A combination of funds from Amtrak, the states of Mississippi, and Louisiana, the Alabama Port Authority, CSX Transportation, and Norfolk Southern Railway will provide a 20% non-Federal match.
  • Workforce Development Apprenticeship Training (up to $8,800,000): This project will support the development of a comprehensive training and apprenticeship program for new track foremen/inspector employees to ensure proper mentorship and skills transfer, which provides opportunities for career advancement for current employees. Amtrak will provide a 20% non-Federal match.
  • Mississippi-Louisiana Grade Crossing Improving Project (up to $1,826,000): In partnership with CN and the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, Amtrak will conduct a study and prioritize grade crossings along The City of New Orleans route to be improved, among other related tasks. Amtrak will provide a 20% non-Federal match.

In addition, Amtrak supported several critical grants submitted by other entitie, which received funding, including:

These new CRISI grant awards, Amtrak says, are a major step in delivering on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) vision for expanded and improved passenger rail. Amtrak has submitted additional federal grant applications to improve its National Network and advance NEC upgrades through the FRA’s Corridor ID and Fed-State Partnership Programs. Those grant award announcements are anticipated later this year.

“The CRISI grants announced today will help launch new and expanded service, advance critical safety and reliability improvements, and provide opportunities for the workforce, marking another big milestone as we continue to advance a new era of passenger rail,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “I want to thank the Biden Administration, USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and FRA Administrator Amit Bose for their commitment towards improving passenger rail across America. I am grateful for the partnership Amtrak has with our state, host and commuter partners and our labor representatives that helped support these grants.”

According to CHRSA, the grant will fund the design, right-of-way purchases and construction of the following six grade separations in the city of Shafter (Kern County) that will separate car and pedestrian traffic from current freight trains and future high-speed rail trains:

  • Poplar Avenue
  • Fresno Avenue
  • Shafter Avenue
  • Central Avenue
  • Lerdo Highway
  • Riverside Street

These grade separations, CHRSA says, are the first to be funded outside of active construction underway along 119 miles in the Central Valley, signaling a strong federal commitment to advance the nation’s first 220 mph electrified high-speed rail operating segment between Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield.

The announcement follows on the heels of Rail Safety Week and efforts to encourage Californians to make safe decisions around railroad tracks to reduce the number of crashes and injuries. According to CHSRA, the grade separations receiving funding will eliminate street-level crossings at intersections along a busy freight rail corridor, preparing communities for future 220 mph high-speed train service and improving safety, air quality and mobility.

Construction on these grade separations is anticipated to start in August 2025 and be completed in August 2028.

“This grant is the latest evidence that my Administration and the Biden-Harris Administration are in lockstep when it comes to building innovative, clean transportation projects for the future,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “These dollars signal our shared strong commitment to advance clean, electrified high-speed rail into the heart of some of the largest and fastest growing cities in California by the end of this decade. I welcome the federal government’s continued support for this major infrastructure project for Californians.”

“With the southernmost 22-mile stretch of active construction due to be complete this fall, this latest federal commitment represents a major step forward in our effort to deliver passenger service in California,” said CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly. “We look forward to this continued partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration.”

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