The U.S. government has identified dozens of aging rail bridges and tracks that will be repaired and upgraded, as part of a $1.4 billion rail infrastructure grant project. The Wall Street Journal reports the funding will be funneled into around 70 approved projects, with improvements to freight railroad operations targeted for some $600 million of the backing.
Freight rail infrastructure has come under scrutiny recently amid derailments, accidents involving hazardous materials, and blocked crossings.
Some lawmakers have argued against government assistance, saying the largest freight railroads have made billions in profits and paid out billions to shareholders in stock buybacks and dividends. Detractors point out that U.S. roads receive $204 billion in government funds per year (more than is spent on police), but rail freight infrastructure and waterways receive nothing.
Among the projects backed by the Federal Railroad Administration is one to replace the Point-No-Point Bridge in New Jersey. The 124-year-old swing bridge is owned by Conrail and carries around 7,000 freight cars a day on trains operated by CSX and Norfolk Southern.
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