by T.A. DeFeo
The federal government is sending more than $9.1 million for a pair of rehabilitation projects on Georgia-owned Class III railroads.
The Federal Railroad Administration will provide nearly $6.2 million to the Heart of Georgia and roughly $2.9 million to the Georgia Southwestern Railroad. The Georgia Department of Transportation owns both lines, and the state will provide a 50% match for the projects.
The money is part of more than $368 million in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grants the feds are giving to 46 projects in 32 states and the District of Columbia.
As part of the proposed HOG Americus Sub project, the railroad will make surface and ballast improvements between Preston and Cordele, replacing roughly 18 miles of rail and 2,750 crossties. It will also install new switches.
Officials say the upgrades will allow 286,000-pound loads and eliminate slow orders along 51 miles of HOG lines connecting at the Cordele Inland Port.
As part of the proposed GSWR project, the railroad will replace roughly nine miles of 100-pound jointed rail with 115-pound rail. It will also upgrade railroad bridges along a 65-mile stretch between Lynn and Cuthbert.
According to an FRA project summary, these upgrades will improve the system’s reliability and safety by maintaining a “state of good repair,” preventing closures and derailments and supporting 286,000-pound loads and Class II track status with speeds up to 25 mph.
At least 25% of the CRISI funding must go to rural projects. Both Georgia projects qualify for the money set aside for rural projects.
In March, state transportation officials said Georgia’s fiscal 2023 budget includes about $10 million to upgrade state-owned rail lines to Class II standards, which officials said would better integrate the lines with the national rail network and allow faster speeds. The money, officials said at the time, would allow them to leverage the CRISI grants.
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T.A. DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.