Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released $82.7 million for track and signal improvements in New England, across a region where freight and passenger lines often share the same corridor.
The Department of Transportation said the money will go to upgrade parts of the Amtrak Northeast Corridor passenger route in Connecticut, plus tracks in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont.
While the grants come from federal accounts for intercity passenger rail service, DOT officials say freight also benefits from the upgrades that can boost efficiency, on-time reliability, provide more sidetracks for trains to pass each other and increase average track speeds.
It is also part of a push by the Obama administration to get as much money invested as quickly as possible in the transportation system.
The biggest piece of the New England funding, $30 million, goes to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. It will got to build six miles of new double-tracks from Hartford to Windsor, and connect with an existing siding to produce a nine-mile segment of double tracking on Amtrak’s New Haven-Springfield line.
The state will also build a new 8,500-foot siding through the Hartford Yard, to help shift freight trains off Amtrak’s main line. The project includes bridge repairs, plus upgrades to signals and grade crossings. Vermont will use $2.7 million to improve signals and add train control technology over 16 miles of track.
Other regional investments using the DOT grants will add tracks, upgrade to new tracks and improve road-rail crossings to boost average train speeds and capacity.