DOT Offers $9B in Grants for Northeast Corridor Passenger Rail Projects

December 22, 2022

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation will soon accept grant applications for nearly $9 billion in funds available to upgrade and expand intercity passenger rail service along the Northeast Corridor.

The notice marks the first round of grants in the five-year, $24-billion Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail program, which is funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It follows a similar notice issued earlier in December of $2.3 billion in grants for rail projects outside the corridor, as ENR previously reported. 

The Northeast Corridor is the busiest U.S. intercity passenger rail route and continues to grow—with the Federal Railroad Administration saying that Amtrak ridership alone has more-than-doubled in the past 12 months to 9.2 million annual passengers. The corridor includes the main rail line between Boston and Washington D.C., plus branch lines connecting to Harrisburg, Pa., Springfield, Mass. and Spuyten Duyvil, N.Y., as well as facilities used to operate and maintain those lines.

The funding marks “a major step towards reversing a half-century of underinvestment in vital rail infrastructure,” agency Administrator Amit Bose said in a statement. “The expanded partnership program funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law will ensure that the Northeast Corridor thrives as the region’s economic and transportation backbone.”

The grants would cover a federal share of up to 80% of a given project’s cost, according to the notice. 

Projects must have been included on the Northeast Corridor project inventory that the agency published in November. Grant applications addressing “major backlog projects” such as repair or modernization of bridges and tunnels will be prioritized. 

The railroad agency pointed to the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel in Maryland, the Walk Bridge in Connecticut and Hudson Tunnel between New Jersey and New York as examples. Planning studies will also be prioritized, then projects in final design or construction stages. 

Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said in a statement that projects included in thr federal agency corridor inventory “will deliver the modern infrastructure needed to improve the reliability and performance of train travel throughout the Northeast and establish a pipeline of critical future improvements projects.”

Grant applications under the program are due within 90 days of the notice of funding opportunity being published in the Federal Register, which the railroad agency expects to occur on Dec. 27. That would set the grant deadline at March 27.