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Missouri Department of Transportation

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MoDOT News Release 

For more information, contact Rod Massman, 573-751-7476 or Brian Weiler, 573-751-7475.

September 30, 2008 12:00 AM
Missouri Wins Federal Grant to Improve Passenger Rail Service

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation received a $3.3 million federal grant today that will help increase freight mobility and reduce delays for Amtrak service across the state. The grant from the Federal Railroad Administration will help fund two projects that will increase rail capacity between Kansas City and Jefferson City at a critical time when Amtrak ridership is on the rise, increasing 31 percent since last October.

"With high fuel prices and tightening economic conditions, travelers want additional, dependable transportation options," said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. "This federal grant, in addition to funding we received for multimodal operations from the Missouri legislature in May, is just the boost we need to develop a transportation system that better serves everyone's needs - not just drivers."

The federal grant will help fund the preliminary engineering and construction of an entirely new 9,000-foot siding just west of the city of California on the Union Pacific line. Union Pacific will build the siding. The grant will also pay for the preliminary design and engineering to extend an existing siding at Knob Noster on the same rail line.

The sidings, or parallel tracks, will allow trains to pass each other without stopping, thus reducing delays for Amtrak passengers caused by heavy freight train traffic on the Union Pacific Railroad line.

"We've collaborated with MoDOT and Amtrak on the study of siding projects like these since 2006, and we look forward to further siding projects with them in the future," said Tom Mulligan, Union Pacific's Director of Passenger Train Operations. "We look forward to beginning construction on the California siding project in 2009."

The federal grant does require a 50-50 funding match, which is already in place thanks to $5 million in additional funding MoDOT received from the state legislature in May specifically for rail improvements. That money was a portion of a bigger multimodal package approved by the General Assembly when it significantly increased the department's non-highway state-funded budget to $39.3 million for 2009 - a 74 percent increase from last year's $22.6 million. 

Beyond the rail improvements on the Amtrak St. Louis - Kansas City line, MoDOT will also invest these funds in upgrades to seven of Missouri's ports on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers; improvements to airport runways, navigation aids and airfield lighting systems; and operating assistance for agencies that transport elderly and disabled citizens.

"Investment in other ways to travel was only about $22 million last year - that's only one percent of our budget and barely enough to keep Amtrak running," Rahn said. "I'm thrilled that an infusion of resources from both the state legislature and the federal government will now help us fully develop a well-rounded transportation network that gives travelers the options they need and deserve."

                       

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