State funding to boost freight rail projects

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Pennsylvania is on track for some big railroad improvements. The State Transportation Commission has allocated $32 million for freight rail projects.

“These are cases where these facilities have deteriorated to the point where they need to have investment to keep them in good operating shape,” PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick says the funding has been going up since the Act 89 Transportation Plan was enacted a few years ago.

“It basically comes from the General Fund and the bond funds,” he said.

There are 27 different projects which include replacing crossings and miles of track in Steelton and Highspire. Work is also planned in Middletown and Lancaster.

Pennsylvania has 67 operating railroads, more than any other state. PennDOT is focusing its work on private operators.

Railroads are key to ensuring customers and businesses get the supplies and products they need. The state has more than 5,500 miles of freight lines.

Kirkpatrick says the latest investment is vital in boosting Pennsylvania’s overall transit system.

“It’s to help underpin our transportation system. It really needs to be well-maintained,” he said. “When you have a good network of highways, bridges, rail facilities, aviation, it really translates into an improved economy.”

Gov. Tom Wolf’s office says the railroad work will sustain 400 jobs.

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