Third rail construction in Delaware gets federal funding

Construction is expected to begin this fall on a third railroad track along the Amtrak Northeast Corridor south of Wilmington.

The Federal Railroad Administration is allocating a grant totaling $13.3 million for the project, which transportation officials say will alleviate delays at a traditional “chokepoint” for Amtrak, SEPTA, and freight trains.

The new track is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.

“This investment will also help to lay the groundwork for future improvements, both in Delaware and other states, which will accelerate the northeast corridor’s continuing evolution as a true high speed rail option,” Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware) said in a statement. 

Congressman John Carney (D-Delaware) said “this project will create jobs while improving reliability and reducing travel time for the thousands of rail passengers who rely on Amtrak and SEPTA each day.”

The current congestion requires trains to slow down, affecting schedules and frequency of passenger and rail trains.

According to US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the project includes construction of one-and-a-half miles of track, two additional crossovers, and a bridge replacement.

Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Acela and regional trains carried more than 10-million passengers in 2010.  Ridership is expected to increase by six-percent this year.  Additional track improvements have been made or are being planned in other states along the busy route between Washington and Boston.

Delaware Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt said the state is in the process of seeking bids for the project.  “These improvements will enhance the speed and reliability of rail service in the area and contribute to the state’s ability to attract new jobs and businesses,” Bhatt said.

Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) said “rail lines are a critical piece of our state’s transportation infrastructure, so projects like this that can increase capacity are very important to Delaware.”

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