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Corbett: Rail funding will boost movement of goods

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Gov. Tom Corbett announced funding this week for 33 rail freight improvement projects that he said will help sustain more than 43,000 jobs across the state.

The funding comes from three PennDOT-managed programs.

"Pennsylvania has more operating railroads than any other state, and investing in our rail freight network keeps these invaluable assets in prime position to generate economic growth and jobs," Corbett said in a news release. "Improving rail networks not only spurs our economy, it also increases safety by helping to ease traffic on our highways."

The State Transportation Commission voted to approve $33.4 million for 15 projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program and 14 projects through the Rail Freight Assistance Program.

RTAP is a capital budget grant program funded with bonds, and RFAP is underwritten through the new Multi-Modal Fund created by Act 89.

In November, Corbett signed Act 89, a far-reaching transportation program that clears the way for significant investments in all transportation modes. Act 89 is expected to generate $2.3 billion annually for Pennsylvania's highways, bridges and mass-transit systems.

Also, the transportation commission approved $1.3 million for four projects from Marcellus Shale impact fees designated for distribution through PennDOT's Bureau of Rail Freight, Ports and Waterways.

These two Central Pennsylvania projects were funded:

Dauphin County (funded under RTAP):

Mittal Steel USA Railways: $1.9 million to rehabilitate 14,242 feet of track, including 27 turnouts.

Lancaster County (funded under RFAP):

• Columbia and Reading Railway Co.: $732,200 to add five new tracks, five new turnouts, realign 390 feet of mainline track, add four new turnouts and 1,350 feet of new track.

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