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February 12, 2021 1:00 PM, EST

New York Gov. Cuomo Announces $87 Million in Rail, Port Funding

Gov. Andrew Cuomo "These targeted investments allow us to modernize our state’s aging rail and port infrastructure, helping to spur economic growth and ensure we remain competitive in today’s global economy.”(Gov. Andrew Cuomo via YouTube)

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the availability of $87 million for port and rail improvements in an effort to enhance the state’s trade corridors,

The grants are intended to spur economic competitiveness and support the resiliency of critical infrastructure.

Project activities eligible for funding include wharf and dock reconstruction, dredging, resurfacing at highway-rail grade crossings, track and bridge rehabilitation and terminal construction. As well as enhancing economic competitiveness, the projects are supposed to help with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our statewide and regional economies depend on having a reliable and resilient transportation network to support commercial activities,” Cuomo said. “These targeted investments allow us to modernize our state’s aging rail and port infrastructure, helping to spur economic growth and ensure we remain competitive in today’s global economy.”

NYSDOT Rail Port Funding Application Instructions by Transport Topics on Scribd

Specifically, some $85.5 million is available through the Passenger and Freight Rail Assistance Program and $1.5 million is available through the Railway-Highway Crossings (Section 130) Program. A highway-rail grade crossing is where a roadway intersects with railroad tracks at the same level or grade. There are more than 250,000 such crossings in the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The Passenger and Freight Rail Assistance Program, administered through the New York State Department of Transportation, provides assistance for rail and port projects to improve the state’s major trade and travel corridors. Projects funded through this program will be evaluated based on criteria including a cost-benefit analysis, adherence to regional economic development plans, compatibility with private and public investments and actions that reduce climate risk.

Established in 1987, the Railway-Highway Crossings (Section 130) Program provides funds for the elimination of hazards at these crossings. The Federal Railroad Administration has reported that 94% of all rail-related fatalities and injuries occur at railroad crossings or are the result of trespassing. More than 400 rail-related fatalities due to trespassing occur each year.

NYSDOT will accept applications for these funding opportunities through April 22, according to Cuomo’s announcement.

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“These projects will help improve the state’s overall economic competitiveness,” NYSDOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said.

According to Cuomo’s office, sustained state investments in port and rail facilities have contributed to growth in privately owned intermodal hubs. These include the Selkirk Yard, a freight railroad yard near Albany; the Bison Yard, which serves Norfolk Southern Corp. outside Buffalo; and the DeWitt Yard, which is just east of Syracuse.

Cuomo’s announcement about the rail and port funding came less than a month after he announced the availability of $200 million in Bridge NY funding. Administered by NYSDOT, the Bridge NY program offers funding to assist local agencies as they rehabilitate and replace bridges and culverts.

Similar to the rail and port funding, the Bridge NY program is intended to help improve infrastructure resiliency. The Bridge NY program is meant to contribute to the cause of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which was passed in 2019 to help the state combat the effects of climate change.

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