October 23, 2014

FRA celebrates opening of new Mo. railroad bridge

OSAGE CITY, Mo. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo Nov. 25 participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new railroad bridge that will eliminate the last chokepoint along the line between Jefferson City and St. Louis. The $28 million project received $22.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program and was the largest ARRA project in the state of Missouri. Administrator Szabo joined Missouri Department of Transportation Director Dave Nichols, officials from Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad and other dignitaries at the event.

“Railroads play a key role in our ability to move both people and goods, a need that will only increase in the coming decades,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The Obama Administration is committed to working with transportation leaders like Governor Nixon and Senator McCaskill, to make sure the nation’s rail system is efficient, reliable and supportive of economic growth.”

The new Union Pacific Railroad bridge spanning the Osage River will reduce delays for more than 600 passengers traveling on Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner and the 60 freight trains that currently operate over the 283-mile Kansas City to St. Louis Corridor each day. On the old bridge, passenger and freight trains would often have to wait until a train coming from the opposite direction cleared.

With the addition of the new 1,200-foot structure, located just east of Jefferson City in Osage County, the rail corridor between St. Louis and Jefferson City now consists entirely of two mainline tracks that will allow Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains to pass through the area unimpeded. As a result, the region’s four Missouri River Runner trains will see faster, more reliable service.

“This new railroad bridge is yet another strategic investment in our rail infrastructure that will allow for higher performing passenger rail – while also laying a foundation to invest in faster, more frequent, and even more reliable service,” said Administrator Szabo. “It also advances the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative – a vision Missouri shares with eight other states to connect the Midwest’s 40 largest cities with high-performance passenger rail.”

The Federal Railroad Administration, along with its 32 state partners and the District of Columbia, is laying the foundation for a higher performance rail network. Sixty-five projects worth $4.1 billion in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funding are currently completed, under construction, or will soon start construction in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Bringing safe, reliable, convenient, and affordable intercity passenger rail to the U.S. will create jobs, increase economic development opportunities, promote energy efficiency and relieve congestion.

Related story: Missouri legislative director attends ceremony