MnDOT Seeks Grant Applicants for Rail Service Improvements

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Photo by John Auberg; Courtesy of Minnesota Commercial Railroad (MNNR)

Photo by John Auberg; Courtesy of Minnesota Commercial Railroad (MNNR)

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) announced on Oct. 3 that $6.5 million in grants are available for railroads, rail shippers, cities and counties to improve freight service that supports economic development. The funding is available through the 2022 Minnesota Rail Service Improvement (MRSI) program, which was approved during the 2021 special legislative session.

The deadline for applying is Dec. 16, after which a MnDOT project selection team will review and score eligible applications. Award recipients will be notified in February 2023.

According to MnDOT, examples of projects eligible for MRSI funding include railroad tracks, roadbeds, turnouts, bridges, fixed loading/unloading equipment and buildings. Funding, the agency says, “cannot be used for regular or recurring maintenance activities, incomplete or phased projects or engineering, design and right of way acquisition costs.”

MRSI Program Manager Megan Neeck

“The MRSI program has a strong history of supporting essential railroad infrastructure that is part of the state’s critical freight transportation network,” said MRSI Program Manager Megan Neeck. “MRSI funds are awarded to railroad projects that enhance economic development and provide economical, efficient and safe movement of goods to and from markets by rail.”

The MRSI program, MnDOT adds, has administered more than $62 million in loans and grants for capital improvement projects since it was established in 1976 to strengthen the state’s shipping economy. The program was given authority to issue grants for freight rail service improvements that support economic development in 2017.

In May 2022, MnDOT granted funds to eight freight rail improvement projects through the MRSI program. These included:

  • Progressive Rail (Rosemount, Eagan) – $609,000 to extend an existing track interchange to accommodate new business.
  • City of Newfolden – $600,000 to replace an existing rail crossing bridge structure as part of a flood prevention project.
  • American Crystal Sugar (East Grand Forks) – $270,000 for a new rail spur track that provides storage for rail cars for bulk and packaged products and improve rail movement.
  • Archer Daniels Midland (Marshall) – $1.87 million for a new loadout building and equipment along with a new track connection to existing rail infrastructure.

Additionally, MnDOT will be hosting a Q&A webinar on Nov. 9 for those interested in applying for MRSI funding. More details on the grant applications and the webinar are available here.

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