The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has revealed the latest rail projects to receive funding as part of the Biden Administration’s focus on updating and renewing the country’s aging infrastructure. 

Two rail lines in California, the Sierra Northern Railway (SNR) and the Mendocino Railway (MR), have been granted a $31.4m Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan by the DOT’s Build America Bureau to fund track expansions and infrastructure rehabilitation. 

The loan will finance almost 100% of the planned works on the two lines, which will include an expansion of 6.7 miles of the SNR’s Oakdale branch track for engine and carriage storage, and the rehabilitation of 27 bridges, 50 miles of track, and Noyo Canyon Tunnel on the MR, all of which is scheduled to be complete in 2027. 

Build America Bureau executive director Morteza Farajian, said: “Sierra’s and Mendocino’s RRIF loan will help modernize the rail line, which will greatly enhance existing freight service and make the railroad more attractive to new freight customers. 

“We are pleased that a short-line railroad has been able to take advantage of our low-interest financing and deliver improvements that might not have been possible otherwise.” 

In addition to the loans, the DOT also announced that the St Lucie Rive Railroad Bridge Replacement Project in Florida will be granted $130m through the National Infrastructure Project Assistance grant program, known as Mega.

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By GlobalData

The St Lucie bridge project will replace the 100-year-old bridge with a new double-track structure with improved clearance to solve the conflict between maritime and rail access needs.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg described the group of projects receiving funding from the Mega program as “truly transformative”.

“With this announcement, we are advancing projects so large, complex, and ambitious that they could not get funded under the infrastructure programs that existed prior to the Biden administration.” 

The $5bn Mega program falls within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provided massive amounts of funding for projects around the country and has previously backed rail schemes such as Brightline West, a high-speed line planned between Las Vegas and southern California.