On August 27, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration announced a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO), making available nearly $362 million to renovate the dilapidated rail infrastructure of the United States through its Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant Program (CRISI).
CRISI funds renovation, redesign and reconstruction projects that reduce congestion, improve short-line and regional railroad infrastructure, relocate rail lines, enhance multi-modal connections and facilitate service integration between rail and other modes such as at ports or intermodal facilities.
These grants will help build resilience across America’s supply chains, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force.
CRISI grants support an indispensable industry that has long been one of America’s economic engines. Prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Amtrak annually carried more than 32.5 million passengers. Freight railroads annually moved 1.6 billion tons of materials and products valued at more than $600 billion.
Most of those people and goods were transported on an unparalleled nationwide network of privately owned rail lines. CRISI provides funding and a cost-sharing mechanism, helping public and private entities alike partner in maintaining this essential American critical infrastructure asset.
“CRISI is an opportunity to invest in safety and economic progress across the rail networks that support and connect America,” FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose said. “As the nation continues to recover from the pandemic, these projects will create jobs and improve communities. We expect applicants to address necessity, accountability, racial equity, and climate change.”
Rail is a low-emissions option for transporting people and goods, and projects have the potential to improve or expand transportation options, mitigate safety risks and detrimental quality-of-life effects on communities, and foster a more diverse rail industry.
CRISI is authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to assist in funding projects that improve intercity passenger and freight rail transportation safety, efficiency, and reliability.
Certain funding amounts are set aside for the following purposes:
- Rural set-aside — Not less than $93.7 million, or 25%, will be made available for rural projects.
- Intercity passenger rail development — Not less than $75 million will be made available for eligible projects that support the development of new intercity passenger rail service routes, including alignments for existing routes.
Capital improvements for trespass prevention — Not less than $25 million will be made available for capital projects and engineering solutions targeting rail trespassing.
In addition, this funding opportunity incorporates Non-CRISI funding to provide grants to help implement FRA’s National Strategy to Prevent Trespassing:
- Railroad Trespassing Enforcement — $2,034,296 will be made available for grants to fund applicable law enforcement wages to undertake trespass enforcement activities; and
- Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention — $207,000 will be made available for grants to fund targeted outreach campaigns to reduce the number of railroad-related suicides that involve trespassing.
CRISI grants will be awarded to projects that reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities of fostering safety and equitable economic strength; improving core assets and ensuring racial equity and economic inclusion; addressing climate change and resilience; and modernizing our nation’s transportation infrastructure.