U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced today the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing $1.4 billion in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program grants to 70 projects across the nation to improve rail safety, strengthen supply chains and passenger rail service. The announcement included two investments in Washington state’s rail system infrastructure that will improve efficiency of a major agricultural corridor in Eastern Washington and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Tacoma.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) received $72.8 million to design and construct upgrades along the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad (PCC). The PCC serves a critical part of the wheat supply chain in Eastern Washington. This PCC project is part of a multi-phase effort to improve the railroad system so it can handle heavier, faster rail cars and better withstand extreme weather conditions. Grant funding will help replace light-weight worn rail and rotten railroad ties, as well as rebuild dilapidated roadway crossings and surface tracks.
“Thanks to this funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, our State of Washington wheat will reach local and international markets faster. The legislation nearly tripled funding for freight rail infrastructure, allowing the Palouse River & Coulee City Railroad to make this upgrade that will allow trains to safely travel twice as fast on sections of the 297-mile route. The railroad is a critical part of the Washington Grain Train program, which serves over 2,500 farmers and moves tons of grain to ships at deep-water ports destined for overseas markets,” Sen. Cantwell said.
Additionally, Tacoma Rail received $4.095 million to replace two high-polluting diesel electric switcher locomotives with two zero-emission battery-electric switcher locomotives, in addition to the installation of corresponding onsite charging infrastructure. This Tacoma Rail project will advance freight rail electrification technology in the region, as well as reduce toxic diesel emissions and greenhouse gases, which contributes to local and regional climate action goals.
“This Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will allow Tacoma Rail to operate the first ever zero-emission locomotives in the State of Washington, which is great news for everyone who works or lives near the Port of Tacoma. Tacoma Rail will replace two diesel locomotives that are nearly 60 years old with two battery-electric locomotives and charging infrastructure, which will reduce maintenance costs and eliminate 1,240 pounds of diesel particulate matter each year to improve local air quality,” Sen. Cantwell said.
Sen. Cantwell championed the CRISI funding increase in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and expanded the program to allow for rehabilitating, remanufacturing, procuring or overhauling locomotives, provided that such activities result in a significant reduction of emissions. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided $5 billion over five years for the CRISI program, a 290% increase in funding from last year. Sen. Cantwell also wrote letters of support to the Federal Railroad Administration to advocate for both projects. Sen. Cantwell sent letters championing the PCC project and the Tacoma Rail project.