NASHVILLE – Tennessee will receive $55.3 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grants for two rail projects in the state. The US DOT announced $1.5 billion in federal TIGER grant funds for more than 50 projects across the U.S. on Wednesday, the one year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which funds the competitive TIGER grants.
“The Recovery Act TIGER grants awarded to Tennessee will fund needed improvements to the freight rail network in our state,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “These improvements will expand access to freight for businesses across the state, reduce the number of trucks on Tennessee highways by moving more freight by rail, and provide a cleaner, more environmentally friendly transportation option.”
Railroads are up to eight times more fuel efficient than trucks, according to a November 2009 study by the Federal Railroad Administration. In many cases, one train can haul as much freight as nearly 300 trucks, which means a single train can take around 300 trucks off the highway, creating more capacity for motorists.
Tennessee will receive half of a $105 million grant for the Crescent Corridor Rail Initiative. The $52.5 million in federal funds will be used to construct an intermodal transfer facility in Fayette County. The Crescent Corridor is a 2,500-mile rail route operated by Norfolk Southern Corporation that extends from New Jersey to Memphis and New Orleans. Tennessee is partnering with Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi in the Crescent Corridor Freight Initiative. Construction of the new Fayette County facility includes pad and support tracks, trailer and container parking areas, lead tracks and related ancillary buildings and features. Currently, TDOT is conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposed intermodal facility location. The department expects to hold a public meeting and review of the EA in summer 2010.
Tennessee will also share in a $17.5 million grant for the Appalachian Regional Short Line Rail Project. The state will receive $2.8 million to rehabilitate rail lines in Stewart and Montgomery Counties and to construct a new switching terminal near Memphis. The rail lines are owned and operated by R.J. Corman Railroad Group. Short lines are smaller freight railroads that provide local businesses with a link to the national network of Class I railroads, such as CSX or Norfolk Southern. These short lines help keep local businesses competitive in the global markets. Improvements include upgrades to rail, crossties, grade crossing, bridge and tunnel work.
“Rail is an important component to Tennessee’s transportation network,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “It’s important to utilize all of our transportation options when it comes to the movement of freight. These rail improvements will eventually result in more long haul freight moving by train, and will have the additional benefit of relieving congestion on our crowded interstate highway system.”
To learn more about TDOT and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act visit www.tn.gov/tdot/recovery. For more information on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the state of Tennessee, visit www.recovery.gov.