Minnesota DOT accepting applications for rail service improvement grants

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation said it is accepting applications for grants to improve freight rail service that supports economic development through March 31.

The $4 million in general obligation bonds were approved during the state’s 2020 special legislative session. Railroads, rail users, cities, and counties are invited to apply for the grants. MnDOT also said that it may provide additional funding for projects.

“This type of funding is crucial to businesses in the state that depend on rail transportation,” said Peter Dahlberg, Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations program manager. “Many times, small railroads and businesses lack the capital to make necessary improvements on their own. This funding helps the smaller railroads and shippers continue to provide competitive options and efficient movement of goods.”

Eligible projects include railroad tracks, roadbeds, turnouts, bridges, buildings, and fixed loading/unloading equipment. The funding cannot be used for regular or recurring maintenance activities, incomplete or phased projects, or for engineering, design, and right of way acquisition costs.

Since 1976, the program has provided more than $58 million in loans and grants for capital improvement projects that would strengthen Minnesota’s shipping economy. In 2017, the program was expanded to include freight rail service improvements that support economic development.

Applications will be reviewed and scored by a project selection team, and award recipients will be noticed when selections are made.