Monday, December 20, 2010

Vermont upgrades tracks... poised to receive funds from canceled OH/WI

Vermont upgrades tracks... poised to receive funds from canceled OH/WI - TRAINS Magazine

By Kevin Burkholder
Published: December 13, 2010

MONTPELIER, Vt.Vermont is poised to receive an additional $2.7 million in high speed rail funds, while work proceeds on track improvements awarded in the first round of Recovery Act funds. The money is all going toward upgrading the route of Amtrak’s Vermonter over New England Central Railroad tracks.

Vermont’s project was not only the second nationally to find its way through the maze of requirements at the Federal Railroad Administration, it is successfully under way,” says Trini Brassard, assistant director of operations for Vermont’s department of transportation. “With threats of changes to the program, including reductions in funding for projects that are not making progress, we are in a safe position.”

The “threats” Brassard refers to originated with Congressional Republicans who want to take back unspent stimulus funds.

Charles Hunter, RailAmerica’s director of state relations in its eastern region, says it is too early to determine where Vermont’s new funds will go. The extra money comes from canceled Ohio and Wisconsin high speed rail projects.

Ron Bocash, New England Central’s project manager for the high speed upgrades, says that since receiving the first round of funding, a total of 14.87 miles of 115-pound welded rail has been installed. That work occurred between Oct. 28 and Nov. 24 through the combined efforts of crews from New England Central, Atlas Railroad Construction, RailWorks, and LB Foster.

With the onset of winter, the railroad has planned the rest of the project so that work can be done to get things ready to move in the spring. This includes signal work, such as replacing signal heads with LED lighting, bridge tie replacement, building crossing panels, and getting materials delivered and spread along the track.

Hunter says crews would be working toward the next round of funding, as the original application mentioned future signalization possibilities and the extension of passenger service to Montreal.

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