The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission has given the official nod to to add 11 rail projects to the current five-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.
The state is allocating more than $200 million for the projects and is asking the federal government for the eight billion to complete them.
Brian Weiler, MoDOT’s Multimodal Operations Director, says several states are requesting that federal stimulus funding. Weiler says Missouri is ahead of the game though. He says we’ve been working with eight other Midwest States since 1996 to create a rail hub.
Weiler says these grants could provide the down payment Missouri needs to enhance passenger and freight movement.
The type of high-speed rail project Missouri plans to develop is one that would make the train service on the existing Union Pacific line faster over time.
Weiler says 40 states have made pre-applications for projects totaling $103 billion dollars, nearly 12 times the amount available.
"We have heard loud and clear from Missourians that passenger rail service has to be reliable," Weiler said. "Together MoDOT, Union Pacific and Amtrak are making good, steady progress in improving the St. Louis to Kansas City rail corridor."
These new projects will also complement several recent and ongoing improvements like construction of a double track at the Gasconade River Bridge funded by Union Pacific last fall and the new passing siding under construction near California, Mo. to be completed in November with two-thirds state and one-third federal funds.
"We believe our applications are strong and have a good chance of being approved," Weiler said. "Any funding we may receive will help us bring more reliable and eventually higher speed rail service to this region."
The rail improvement projects for which MoDOT is seeking federal stimulus funding are:
1. Knob Noster Passing Siding Extension: ($8,500,000) Project would extend existing siding to 9,000 feet and break up a 27 mile segment with no usable siding.
2. Webster Universal Crossover: ($4,400,000) Project would increase ability to sort freight and passenger trains into and out of the St. Louis area.
3. Second Rail Bridge over Osage River: ($33,800,000) Project would eliminate train delay caused by single-track bottleneck over bridge and reduce maintenance flexibility by adding crossovers.
4. Rail Crossing Safety Improvements: ($3,600,000) Project would upgrade 13 crossings and close two, mostly west of Sedalia.
5. Double Track Lee’s Summit to Pleasant Hill: ($56,600,000) Project would complete double track and signal upgrades to increase Amtrak train speed from 79 to 90 mph at this segment.
6. Kingsville Passing Siding: ($11,500,000) Project would break up 25-mile segment with no passing siding.
7. Hermann Universal Crossover: ($5,200,000) Project would close an 18.2 mile gap on double mainline track with no crossovers.
8. Third Mainline Track in Jefferson City Yard: ($9,700,000) Project would increase fluidity through the Jefferson City yard by maintaining bi-directional freight operations with Amtrak operations.
9. Real-Time Passenger Information Displays: ($3,000,000) Project would install displays at eight intermediate stations to provide general train status information.
10. Strasburg Grade Separation: ($15,000,000) Project would construct an overpass and remove a current at-grade crossing at Route E.
11. New Locomotive and Coach Equipment: ($50,000,000) Seek to purchase two new sets of locomotives and passenger equipment for use on the St. Louis to Kansas City route. (Application is part of the state of Wisconsin’s application).