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Amtrak Awarded Nearly $200M in Federal Grants to Enhance Rail Infrastructure

Amtrak awarded $200M in federal grants for rail improvements, service expansion, and workforce development. #Amtrak #RailInfrastructure



2022-02-08 – Amtrak ALC42 Locomotive & Event – Marc Glucksman/River Rail Photo

Amtrak, in collaboration with its partners, has secured approximately $200 million from the Federal Railroad Administration’s CRISI grant program. These grants will support crucial projects across the Northeast Corridor and Gulf Coast regions, aiming to improve service, enhance safety, and invest in workforce development.

Gulf Coast Corridor Improvement Project
The largest grant, totaling up to $178,435,333, will enable Amtrak to introduce twice-daily service between Mobile and New Orleans. Working alongside the Southern Rail Commission, this project will focus on track and signal improvements, grade crossing upgrades, and station enhancements, while ensuring freight service reliability. A 20 percent non-Federal match will be provided through contributions from Amtrak, Mississippi and Louisiana states, the Alabama Port Authority, CSX Transportation, and Norfolk Southern Railway.

Northeast Corridor (NEC) Fencing Program
An allocation of up to $8,800,000 will fund a programmatic study and survey to guide future fence installations in vulnerable and high-risk areas along the NEC. By enhancing safety measures and preventing unauthorized access, Amtrak aims to benefit the communities it serves. A 20 percent non-Federal match will be contributed by Amtrak.

Workforce Development Apprenticeship Training Program
Amtrak will utilize up to $8,800,000 to establish a comprehensive training and apprenticeship program for new track foremen/inspector employees. This initiative ensures effective mentorship and skills transfer, fostering career advancement opportunities for current employees. A 20 percent non-Federal match will be provided by Amtrak.

Mississippi-Louisiana Grade Crossing Improvement Project
Collaborating with Canadian National Railway, Louisiana, and Mississippi, Amtrak will study and prioritize grade crossings along The City of New Orleans route for improvement. This project, backed by up to $1,826,000, aims to enhance safety and efficiency. Amtrak will contribute a 20 percent non-Federal match.

Supporting Critical Grants
Amtrak also supported various critical grants submitted by other entities, including projects in Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Alabama. These initiatives received funding to improve rail infrastructure and connectivity in their respective regions.

Amtrak’s successful acquisition of these CRISI grants represents a significant milestone in advancing passenger rail services in America. With a commitment to service expansion, safety enhancements, and workforce development, Amtrak is actively contributing to the vision of improved rail travel as outlined in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Further grant announcements are expected later this year.

Source: Amtrak

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The Battle Over Intercity Rail: A Political Showdown in Arizona

Arizona’s political divide over intercity rail: GOP opposes, Dems advocate for sustainable transit solutions.



passenger train at a train station at sunset
Photo by Maisy Vi on Pexels.com

Republican lawmakers in Arizona are taking a firm stance against the development of intercity rail, particularly a commuter rail between Phoenix and Tucson. Their recent move to impose stringent conditions on the state Department of Transportation, including barring the acceptance of federal funds for commuter rail, has sparked controversy and division along party lines.

Senator Jake Hoffman, a vocal opponent of the commuter rail project, argues that investing in what he deems as outdated technology would be a waste of money, citing low ridership numbers on existing light rail systems. He insists that the focus should be on enhancing road infrastructure like the I-10 instead.

On the other side, Governor Katie Hobbs and Democratic lawmakers are advocating for sustainable transportation solutions, including the potential revival of Amtrak service between Phoenix and Tucson. They emphasize the importance of environmental considerations, clean air for future generations, and reducing carbon emissions.

The clash between the two parties reflects a larger debate on transportation priorities and environmental concerns. While Republicans stress individual freedom and the efficiency of personal automobiles, Democrats highlight the need for greener modes of transportation and addressing climate change.

As the legislative battle continues, the fate of intercity rail in Arizona hangs in the balance. The decision on whether to proceed with the project will have far-reaching implications for the state’s transportation infrastructure and environmental policies. Stay tuned as the Senate deliberates on this contentious issue.


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Navigating Change: Paradise Valley Unified School Board Votes to Close Three Schools Amid Declining Enrollment

In a tough decision, Paradise Valley Unified School Board voted to close 3 schools due to declining enrollment, sparking community concerns.



In a recent decision that has stirred emotions and raised concerns within the Paradise Valley community, the Paradise Valley Unified School Board has voted to close three schools due to declining enrollment. Sunset Canyon Elementary, Desert Springs Prep Elementary, and Vista Verde Middle School are the institutions that will be affected by this move, with the closures set to take effect on July 1, 2024.

The board members involved in this difficult decision emphasized the necessity of being fiscally responsible in the face of dwindling student numbers. Despite acknowledging the emotional weight of this choice, their primary focus remained on the financial sustainability of the district. As board member Tony Pantera succinctly put it, “In the end, they’re buildings. Some people say, ‘Well it’s not a building.’ It’s just a building.”

However, the response from the audience highlighted a deeper sentiment among community members. Their outcry, expressing that these schools represent more than just physical structures, underscored the vital role these educational institutions play in fostering a sense of community and belonging. As one can imagine, the decision to close these schools will have far-reaching effects beyond the mere physical closure of buildings.

While Pantera’s assertion that “the community can exist anywhere” may hold some truth, the emotional bond and shared experiences nurtured within these school environments are irreplaceable. The impact of these closures extends beyond mere logistics, touching the hearts of students, parents, teachers, and residents who have built their lives around these educational hubs.

As the Paradise Valley Unified School District navigates this period of change and transition, it is essential for all stakeholders to come together to support one another and ensure that the well-being of the students remains at the forefront of all decisions. While change can be challenging, it also presents an opportunity for growth, adaptation, and the forging of new paths forward.

In the wake of this decision, it is crucial for the community to unite, reflect on the values that these schools have instilled, and work towards creating a positive and supportive environment for all students, regardless of the changes that lie ahead. By coming together with empathy, understanding, and a shared commitment to education, the Paradise Valley community can emerge stronger and more resilient from this period of transition.

Source: KTAR News


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Enhancing East Mesa: A $38.5 Million Transformation of Main Street Set to Begin

A $38.5 million project will revamp a 5-mile stretch on Main Street in far east Mesa, enhancing infrastructure and connectivity. Source: KTAR.



his graphic shows the area in Mesa where transportation officials announced they will begin improvements. (Arizona Department of Transportation Graphic

In a significant development poised to reshape the landscape of far east Mesa, a $38.5 million project is scheduled to revamp a 5-mile stretch on Main Street, also known as Apache Trail. Commencing Monday, the transformation will span between Sossaman Road and Meridian Road, marking a pivotal endeavor by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

Dubbed project 60X, this ambitious initiative is projected to span a two-year timeline, with a focus on enhancing infrastructure along Main Street. The facelift promises upgraded drainage systems and improved roadway lighting, alongside a strategic reduction of lanes from three to two. This adjustment is designed to accommodate the integration of sidewalks and bike lanes, catering to both motorists and pedestrians alike.

A $38.5 million project starting Feb. 5, 2024 is set to revamp a 5-mile stretch in Mesa, including this left turn lane near Main Street and Crismon Road. (Google Maps Screenshot)

Anticipating minimal disruptions, the construction is primarily slated for weekdays, with provisions in place to maintain one lane open in each direction. While a few road closures may be necessary, the emphasis remains on streamlining the process to ensure a seamless transition for the community.

Upon the completion of the project, the reins will be handed over to the Maricopa County Department of Transportation, signifying a collaborative effort to elevate the infrastructure and connectivity in the region. Notably, Main Street holds historical significance as the former Highway 60, precluding the advent of the US 60 Superstition Freeway.

Source: This story is attributed to KTAR, capturing the essence of a transformative venture set to redefine Main Street in far east Mesa. Stay tuned for updates as the metamorphosis unfolds, promising a renewed urban landscape for residents and commuters alike.


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