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Amtrak and Partners Secure Federal Funding to Enhance Passenger Rail Service Across America



Passenger train struck a roadway
Passenger train struck a roadway by National Transportation Safety Board is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Amtrak, the national passenger rail service in the United States, has recently been awarded over $2.1 billion in federal funding to improve existing routes and expand their services nationwide. These grants, provided through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program, signify a significant investment in the future of passenger rail travel in America. With these funds, Amtrak and its partners aim to enhance infrastructure, upgrade stations, and develop new intercity passenger rail corridors, ultimately delivering improved service and connectivity to communities across the country.

Amtrak’s Commitment to Expansion:
Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner expressed enthusiasm about the funding, highlighting the rising ridership and the organization’s dedication to expanding services with the support of their partners. Gardner stated, “We’re eager to bring the benefit of Amtrak’s network and experience to support states and local communities as they work to bring intercity passenger rail to new communities across America.” This commitment reflects Amtrak’s mission to provide reliable, efficient, and sustainable transportation options to an increasing number of passengers.

Infrastructure Upgrades and Station Enhancements:
A significant portion of the funding, $2 billion, will be allocated to Amtrak’s partners in North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maine for infrastructure upgrades. These improvements will directly benefit Amtrak customers and host railroads, ensuring greater reliability, faster trips, and expanded service. Additionally, Amtrak will receive $108.5 million directly for station and service upgrades, enabling them to enhance facilities and amenities for passengers across their network.

Development of Intercity Passenger Rail Corridors:
Recognizing the need for improved connectivity between cities and regions, the federal funding also includes $34.5 million to support the planning and development of 69 new and improved intercity passenger rail corridors in 39 states and localities. Amtrak, with its extensive experience and expertise in operating passenger rail services, stands ready to provide support and collaboration to these projects. The development of these corridors will foster economic growth, reduce congestion on roads, and provide climate-friendly transportation alternatives for travelers.

Benefits of Federal Investment:
Amit Bose, the Federal Railroad Administration Administrator, emphasized that these investments align with President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. The funding will support transformative rail projects that offer convenient and sustainable alternatives to congested roads and airports. Bose stated, “Today’s investments in passenger rail nationwide… are another step forward as we expand and modernize our country’s rail network, providing more Americans the world-class passenger rail they need and deserve.” The grants will contribute to faster travel times, enhanced reliability, and expanded service, ultimately benefiting passengers and communities nationwide.

The recent federal funding of over $2.1 billion for Amtrak and its partners represents a significant milestone in the advancement of passenger rail service across America. With a focus on infrastructure upgrades, station enhancements, and the development of new intercity passenger rail corridors, these grants will pave the way for improved connectivity, economic growth, and sustainable transportation options. As Amtrak continues to expand its network and collaborate with states and local communities, the future of passenger rail travel in the United States looks brighter than ever.

The Projects:

  • Chicago Union Station (CUS) Projects – (two grants totaling up to $93.6 million)

Chicago is the hub of Amtrak’s National Network. Every day, dozens of Long Distance and State Supported trains start or end their routes at CUS. Two separate grants will advance elements of the Chicago Hub Improvement Program (CHIP), Amtrak’s multi-phased project to revitalize CUS and revolutionize Midwest passenger rail.

These grants will help improve the customer experience for Amtrak and Metra customers by funding renovation and expansion of the station platforms, improving passenger access and capacity, bringing the platforms into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, and improving ventilation systems and air quality. This work also includes repurposing platforms designed for mail handling that have been unused since 2005, enabling their use for passengers and supporting long-term rail service expansion across the Midwest.

  • Malta, Mont. Corridor Operational Enhancement Project (up to $14.9 million)

This project will improve Empire Builder service by eliminating critical bottlenecks that cause delays and operational conflicts for freight and passenger trains. The work involves final design and construction activities for track, bridge, signal and other rail infrastructure improvements on BNSF tracks that Amtrak’s Long Distance service operates on in the Malta, Mont. area and at the Malta Amtrak Station.

In addition to these three grants, multiple partners also received funding through this program to upgrade tracks and bridges that Amtrak trains operate on, which will help to improve reliability and reduce travel times. Additionally, Amtrak congratulates Brightline West and the California High Speed Rail Authority for their successful grant applications to build high speed rail projects that will expand intercity rail options and could interface with Amtrak’s network in the future.

CORRIDOR ID PROGRAM (each award up to $500,000)

This comprehensive intercity passenger rail planning and development program created by the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act is designed to help guide intercity passenger rail development throughout the United States and create a pipeline of intercity passenger rail projects ready for implementation.

The FRA awarded grant funding to all four applications Amtrak submitted. Another 65 applications submitted by other entities also received funding. This funding could support development of a scope, schedule, and cost estimate for preparing, completing, or documenting related service development plans.

Amtrak-Led Grants

  • Texas High-Speed Rail Corridor

This proposed corridor would connect Dallas and Houston, Texas, with a new, dedicated and grade separated high-speed passenger rail service. This would provide new service on a new alignment, with station stops in Dallas, Brazos Valley and Houston.

  • Long Island Northeast Regional Extension

This proposed corridor would extend three existing daily Northeast Regional round trips between Washington, DC and New York City east to Ronkonkoma, NY, with stops at Jamaica (Queens, NY) and Hicksville, NY. This would entail track, station and infrastructure upgrades to accommodate these trains and better integrate Amtrak service with Long Island Rail Road commuter service.

  • Daily Cardinal Service

This proposed corridor would increase Cardinal service to operate daily, versus three days per week currently. This route operates between New York City and Chicago via Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

  • Daily Sunset Limited Service

This proposed corridor would increase Sunset Limited service to operate daily, versus three days per week currently. This route operates between Los Angeles and New Orleans via Houston, San Antonio and El Paso, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; and other communities.

Other FRA Identified Corridors

Several of the 65 corridors submitted by other entities and selected by FRA will study improvements that would benefit existing State Supported, Long Distance and Northeast Regional services operated by Amtrak.

As America’s Railroad, Amtrak is uniquely positioned to support the proposed expansion of intercity passenger rail across the many corridors identified by the FRA. This includes more than 52 years of experience connecting communities across America, as well as strong teams dedicated to Network Planning, Capital Delivery and Service Delivery & Operations with employees located across the United States.

Earlier this year, the FRA also awarded Amtrak nearly $10 billion for 12 projects of national significance across America’s busiest rail corridor, and another nearly $200 million through the CRISI grant program.

Rod: A creative force, blending words, images, and flavors. Blogger, writer, filmmaker, and photographer. Cooking enthusiast with a sci-fi vision. Passionate about his upcoming series and dedicated to TNC Network. Partnered with Rebecca Washington for a shared journey of love and art.


The Purple Line: Making History and Connecting L.A.

The Purple Line Extension Project: Connecting L.A., overcoming challenges, and unearthing history. #PurpleLine #LosAngeles #Transportation



The completion of tunneling on the Purple Line Extension Project marks a significant milestone in the development of Los Angeles’ transportation system. With plans to connect Downtown Los Angeles with key areas of the Westside, this subway expansion project will not only alleviate traffic congestion but also create historical significance for the city. Let’s delve into the history, challenges, and cultural implications surrounding the Purple Line.

Wilshire Boulevard – A Legacy of Rail Ambitions:
Wilshire Boulevard has long been considered a prime location for rapid transit. However, throughout the years, mass transit initiatives faced various challenges, including bans on streetcars, failed monorail proposals, and shifts in subway alignments. Despite this tumultuous past, the Purple Line Extension Project is revitalizing the vision to connect millions of people to essential destinations.

Tunneling Technology Evolves:
The tunnelling process for the Purple Line has significantly progressed, thanks to advancements in tunnel boring machines (TBMs). These colossal drills, equipped with giant cutter heads, have improved safety, speed, and sustainability. Compared to earlier methods, modern TBMs utilize an ‘earth pressure balance’ technique, ensuring constant pressure in the surrounding soil during excavation. This progress allows for a sturdy, secure tunnel construction.

Completing Section by Section:
The project is divided into three sections, each unveiling a distinct aspect of Los Angeles’ history. Section 1, stretching from Wilshire/La Brea to Wilshire/Western, uncovered a trove of over 2,000 fossils, including mammoths, dire wolves, and giant sloths. Additionally, numerous anomalies were discovered, such as mysterious steel beams buried beneath the ground. Section 2, between La Cienega Avenue and Century City, revealed remnants of Century City’s past as it evolved from a former backlot. Beverly Hills High School also held abandoned oil wells, highlighting L.A.’s oil-rich history. Finally, Section 3 unearthed remnants of structures from the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Sailors, providing a glimpse into late 19th-century architecture.

Overcoming Challenges:
Excavating through tar-soaked soil presented immense challenges during the tunneling process. However, with perseverance, innovation, and new techniques, the TBMs successfully navigated 10 miles beneath the surface. Remarkably, this feat was accomplished without any complaints of noise or vibrations, a testament to meticulous planning and consideration for the surrounding communities.

Cultural and Historical Significance:
Los Angeles has a unique relationship with its underground realm. From the tar pits of Hancock Park to the city’s identity as an urban oil field, the subterranean world influences the collective psychology of Angelenos. The completion of the Purple Line tunnels represents a continuation of this connection between past and present. The underground holds a powerful allure, filled with fascination, myths, and hints of what the future holds.

The Purple Line Extension Project is not just a transportation endeavor; it is a historic achievement for Los Angeles. Overcoming hurdles, preserving fossils, and unearthing remnants of the city’s past, this project symbolizes the city’s unwavering dedication to creating a comprehensive, efficient, and sustainable transit system. As the final phases of construction and station development progress, the Purple Line will connect communities, create opportunities, and leave an indelible mark on the city’s history.

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The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Cities in California: A Closer Look

“San Francisco ranked as the healthiest city in the U.S., while Fontana ranked as the unhealthiest in California #HealthiestCities #California”



city skyline during golden hour. "San Francisco skyline with blue sky and green parks"
Photo by KEHN HERMANO on Pexels.com

Keeping ourselves healthy is a personal endeavor, but it can be greatly influenced by the environment we live in. A recent report from WalletHub has ranked the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in the United States, shedding light on the impact of location on overall well-being. In this blog post, we will explore where cities in the Golden State landed on the list and delve into the factors that contribute to their rankings.

San Francisco: The Healthiest City in the Nation
Taking the crown as the healthiest city in the entire country, San Francisco showcases a combination of favorable health conditions and amenities. WalletHub’s report highlights its abundance of hiking trails (1st), healthy restaurants per capita (3rd), and a high percentage of physically active adults (20th). Though there is room for improvement in terms of mental health indicators (11th in adults with 14+ unhealthy days in the past month), San Francisco has undoubtedly earned its top spot.

San Diego: Southern California’s Health Champion
The second Californian city on the list, San Diego ranks as the fourth healthiest city in the U.S. Similarly, San Diego boasts an impressive number of hiking trails (1st), healthy restaurants per capita (9th), and active adults (15th). While it scores well in most categories, it could work on mental health metrics (36th in adults with 14+ unhealthy days in the past month) and access to nutritionists (95th).

Honolulu and Seattle: A Tropical and Emerald Oasis
Honolulu, Hawaii, takes the third spot on the national ranking, embraced by its beautiful surroundings and vibrant lifestyle. Seattle, Washington, follows closely, offering residents a mix of green spaces, health-conscious options, and a relatively high share of physically active adults.

California Cities That Made the List:
WalletHub’s report showcases multiple Californian cities that are making strides toward healthier living. Here are some notable rankings:

  • Irvine (10)
  • Los Angeles (11)
  • Huntington Beach (14)
  • Glendale (20)
  • San Jose (22)
  • Fremont (24)
  • Oakland (26)
  • Garden Grove (30)
  • Long Beach (32)
  • Sacramento (35)
  • Oceanside (45)
  • Santa Clarita (51)
  • Anaheim (52)
  • Santa Rosa (62)
  • Santa Ana (90)
  • Chula Vista (93)
  • Oxnard (99)
  • Modesto (103)
  • Riverside (107)
  • Rancho Cucamonga (115)
  • Ontario (137)
  • Fresno (139)
  • Stockton (140)
  • Moreno Valley (151)
  • Bakersfield (154)
  • San Bernardino (155)
  • Fontana (157)

The Unhealthiest City in California: Fontana
Unfortunately, Fontana ranks as the unhealthiest city in California according to the report. While there is room for improvement, it is important to note that every city has its unique challenges when it comes to promoting healthy lifestyles. By acknowledging these rankings, cities can work towards implementing positive changes to support the well-being of their residents.

The WalletHub report has shed light on the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in the U.S., revealing California’s prominent presence on the list. San Francisco’s top ranking showcases its dedication to creating a healthy environment, closely followed by San Diego’s wellness-oriented lifestyle. These rankings serve as a reminder for Californians to continue striving for a healthier community, both at an individual and collective level.

If you’re looking for something interesting to read, I highly recommend checking out the story on the Orange County Patch website. It’s a great read and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. https://patch.com/california/orange-county/s/ivr3u/city-in-ca-ranked-healthiest-in-u-s-report/


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California’s Top 10 Most-Polluted Cities: A New Report Sheds Light on Air Quality Challenges

“California’s top 10 most-polluted cities revealed in a new report: Happy Camp, Baldwin Park, Ridgewood, Cutler, Salton City, Orleans, North El Monte, Willowbrook, Willow Creek, San Bernardino.”



In recent years, wildfires have plagued California, causing widespread concerns about air quality. As haze and smoke engulf skylines, visibility decreases, and the effects are felt by all, especially those with underlying health conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified air pollution as the greatest environmental threat to human health, attributing one out of every nine deaths worldwide to this silent killer. To assess the severity of the problem within the Golden State, IQAir conducted a comprehensive study, revealing California’s top ten most-polluted cities based on air pollution levels from 2018 to 2023.

  1. Happy Camp: Air Quality Index (AQI) – 16.8
    Topping the charts is Happy Camp, a municipality that endured significant exposure to wildfire smoke in 2020. Despite this dubious distinction, the city’s AQI of 16.8 needs to be put into perspective. Compared to other international cities like Delhi, India (347), Dhaka, Bangladesh (185), and Milano, Italy (143), Happy Camp’s pollution levels are relatively lower.
  2. Baldwin Park: AQI – 15.3
    Baldwin Park follows closely with an AQI of 15.3, demonstrating the challenges faced by this urban center. The city’s proximity to major highways and industrial areas could contribute to its elevated pollution levels.
  3. Ridgewood: AQI – 15.3
    Sharing the same AQI as Baldwin Park, Ridgewood highlights the need for concerted efforts to improve air quality in this community.
  4. Cutler: AQI – 14.9
  5. Salton City: AQI – 14.9
    Both Cutler and Salton City register an AQI of 14.9, indicating the persistent pollution struggles faced by these regions.
  6. Orleans: AQI – 14.7
  7. North El Monte: AQI – 14.4
    Both Orleans and North El Monte underscore the challenges faced by rural and suburban areas in maintaining clean air quality.
  8. Willowbrook: AQI – 14.4
  9. Willow Creek: AQI – 14.1
    Both Willowbrook and Willow Creek illustrate the diverse geographical landscape across California, as urban and rural areas alike contend with pollution challenges.
  10. San Bernardino: AQI – 14.0
    Occupying the tenth spot on the list, San Bernardino showcases the need for ongoing efforts to mitigate air pollution in larger cities.

The alarming pollution levels recorded in California’s top ten most-polluted cities demand immediate attention and comprehensive actions to safeguard the well-being of residents. While the data emphasizes the challenges faced by these communities, it is crucial not to lose sight of the global scale of the problem. Initiatives to combat air pollution need to be undertaken collectively, involving government bodies, environmental organizations, and individuals. By implementing sustainable practices, increasing awareness, and supporting clean air policies, we can collectively work towards improved air quality and the well-being of all Californians.

Please take a look at the IQ Air study by clicking on the link here. https://www.iqair.com/us/world-most-polluted-cities



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