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KDOT Submits Pre-Application for Millions in Stimulus for Rail Projects

KDOT Submits Pre-Application for Millions in Stimulus for Rail Projects

KDOT Submits Pre-Application for Millions in Stimulus for Rail Projects

Cleon Rickel
Published 07/16/2009 - 11:13 p.m. CDT

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TOPEKA -- Kansas has submitted three pre-applications for economic stimulus money earmarked for high-speed passenger rail.

The requests will seek more than $17 million for track improvements, said John Maddox, Kansas Depart of Transportation rail and freight manager.

“They can be considered expressions of interest to apply for grants later in the year,” Maddox said.

The improvements directly or indirect affect the Southwest Chief, which runs through Kansas City and between Chicago and Los Angeles.

One application would seek nearly $7 million to replace 19 miles of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad between Barclay, in Osage County southwest of Topeka, and Emporia. The rail would be replaced with a heavier, continuous welded rail; and would allow Amtrak to increase train speeds from 60 miles an hour to 79 miles an hour. The grant would fund all of the improvements.

A second grant seeks $250,000 for half of the cost to develop a service for state-supported Amtrak service between Kansas City and Oklahoma City. The service plan would be a spin-off the Amtrak Expansion Feasibility Study which is under way and expected to be done later this year, Ron Kaufman, KDOT spokesman, said. If the agency gets the grant, KDOT would kick in another $250,000 to match it, he said.

The third request will be for $10 million to retime signals and improve grade crossings on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe track between Newton, Kan. and the Oklahoma state line. The improvements would allow a passenger connection between the Southwest Chief, which runs through Newton, and the Heartland Flyer, which runs between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas.

The change in signal timing would allow Amtrak trains to run up to 79 miles an hour between Newton and Oklahoma City, Kaufman said. The grant would be a 100-percent grant.

KDOT plans to submit the final applications this fall, he said.

The Missouri Department of Transportation also plans to apply for economic stimulus funds to increase the speed of the passenger rail route between St. Louis and Kansas City up to 90 miles an hour.

The Federal Railroad Administration plans to announce its grant awards by the end of the year.

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