The Paterson Administration announced that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) $28.5 million in funding under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program for three projects across the State. The grants will be used to ease congestion and improve reliability of service along the Empire Corridor through the Syracuse area by building additional track, switches, and signals; increase reliability between Albany and New York City, by modernizing signals; and advance necessary engineering and environmental work for the future replacement of the Livingston Avenue Bridge over the Hudson River between Rensselaer and Albany.
"This additional Federal funding for high speed passenger rail will help revitalize New York State's economy, modernize our rail transportation network, and make it easier to get people and goods safely to their destinations across the State," Governor Paterson said. "I commend the Federal Railroad Administration for their wise investment in New York's infrastructure and look forward to continuing to work with them to secure additional funding as we enhance the high-speed rail network."
NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee said: "These improvements will make rail travel faster and more reliable for passengers and freight through Central New York and the Hudson Valley, and will pave the way for replacing the Livingston Avenue Bridge in Albany. I applaud Governor Paterson for his leadership and commitment to upgrading our rail infrastructure and making it a more dependable transportation option, which helps take vehicles off the road, improves our air quality, and reduces energy consumption."
Overall, four of the ten projects submitted by New York State in the individual projects category have received funding from the federal government. There was a total of $245 million available in that category in this round of funding. New York State is currently in the process of advancing its Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) project, the funding for which was included in the previous $151 million grant award, and therefore it was not yet eligible to apply for corridor-wide funding. The State was successful I this round of funding due in great part to the leadership of Governor Paterson and our Congressional delegation in Washington.
New York was favorably positioned to receive 3 of the 10 individual project grants awarded by FRA in this category based on its overall comprehensive goals for high speed passenger rail. Additionally, the demonstrated progress in working collaboratively with partners including CSX Corporation and Amtrak toward our common goals of enhancing rail travel in New York State has helped to put these improvements on the right track. The fourth project, the Niagara Falls Station, was funded through a recently-announced TIGER grant. Further, New York State will participate in the $50 million awarded for planning and multi-state proposal activities as part of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Multi-Modal High Speed Rail Improvement Plan.
The $28.5 million in funding will be used for the following projects:
- Syracuse: Empire Corridor Congestion Relief - $18.55 million for a $23.18 million project for the final design and construction of track and signal improvements along the Empire Corridor in the Syracuse area in order to remove a bottleneck. The project includes a $4.64 million match from State funding.
- Hudson Line Signal Improvements - $8 million of a total $10 million project for final design and construction of train signal improvements between New York City and Albany. The existing signal system is nearly 30 years old and frequent outages occur during inclement weather, affecting all trains along the corridor. This project is the first phase, located between Barrytown and Poughkeepsie, of an initiative to increase overall reliability of the signal system along the section of the Empire Corridor between Albany and New York City. The project includes a State funding match of $2 million.
- Livingston Avenue Bridge - $2 million in Federal funds for a $4 million project for preliminary engineering and required environmental work will allow NYSDOT to conduct the necessary studies to replace the Livingston Avenue Bridge, which crosses over the Hudson between Rensselaer and Albany. The bridge was originally constructed in 1866. Its possible closure puts all passenger rail service west and north of Albany at risk, including service between New York City and Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls. The project includes a State funding match of $2 million.
The FRA funds were awarded through a discretionary program with $245 million for enhancements to high-speed rail corridors. The grant process was highly competitive; while FRA received 57 applications from 18 states totaling $700 million in funding requests, New York ultimately received approximately 12 percent of the available funds. The High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funds advances in highspeed intercity passenger rail corridor development and rail congestion relief projects. The grants require a minimum 20 percent non-Federal funding match.
In March of last year, Governor Paterson released the 2009 New York State Rail Plan, the first comprehensive update of the State's rail strategy in 22 years and a prerequisite for future Federal funding for rail capital improvement projects. Last year, the FRA awarded New York State $151 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for high-speed intercity passenger rail improvements.