U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg joined Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and U.S. Congressman Peter Welch at an event on May 6 to announce that the U.S. Department of Transportation will provide $10 million to extend Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express passenger train service all the way to Burlington, Vermont. Currently, the service begins in New York City and stops in Rutland, Vermont.
“Transportation is always about the future. If we’re just fixing today’s problems, we’ll fall further and further behind. We already know that a growing population and increasing freight traffic will require our system to do more,” said Secretary Foxx. “In this round of TIGER grants, we selected projects that focus on where the country’s transportation infrastructure needs to be in the future: safer, more innovative, and more targeted to open the floodgates of opportunity across America.”
The $10 million grant will fund approximately 11 miles of new rail track along the state-owned line and three passenger platforms in Middlebury, Vergennes, and Burlington. The project will also reduce long-term maintenance costs for the state, allow passenger trains to operate up to 60 miles per hour and enhance safety at multiple railroad crossings.
The project is one of 39 federally funded transportation projects in 34 states selected to receive a total of nearly $500 million under the Department’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2015 program. Secretary Foxx announced project selections for this round of TIGER grants on October 29, 2015. The Department received 627 eligible applications from 50 states and several U.S. territories, including tribal governments, requesting 20 times the $500 million available for the program, or $10.1 billion, for needed transportation projects.
“This is a day Burlington has been waiting a long time for – this funding will help not only take us back to a time when passenger rail extended to Burlington, but more importantly, it will take us into the future,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E Feinberg.
With this latest round of funding, TIGER continues to invest in transformative projects that will provide significant and measurable improvements over existing conditions. The awards recognize projects nationwide that will advance key transportation goals such as safety, innovation, and opportunity.
This grant is part of the seventh round of TIGER grants since 2009, bringing the total grant amount to more than $4.6 billion provided to 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, including 134 projects supporting rural and tribal communities. Demand for the program has been overwhelming: to date, the U.S. Department of Transportation has received more than 6,700 applications requesting more than $134 billion for transportation projects across the country.
(Source: US Department of Transportation)