WSDOT: $7.5M available for capital freight rail projects

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is seeking proposals from railroads, port districts, rail districts, private companies and local governments to compete for $7.75 million in funding under the Freight Rail Assistance Program and the Freight Rail Investment Bank. Proposals are judged against criteria related to promoting economic development through the advancement of freight rail activities.

WSDOT will begin accepting applications starting April 9 through Aug. 20.

WSDOT staff will conduct a series of free workshops to help potential applicants with their proposal. Examples of completed applications and cost benefit models will be available as well as staff members to answer any questions. Workshops are scheduled across the state, including Tacoma on June 18. Advanced registration is required for participation in the workshops. Interested organizations can sign up for a workshop and/or request a proposal packet by contacting or (360) 705-7900.

The Freight Rail Investment Bank program is a loan program available to the public sector, intended for either smaller projects or as a small part of a larger project where state funds would enable the project to be completed. The governor and state legislature will provide $5 million for the Freight Rail Investment Bank program during the 2011-2013 Biennium. Funds will be available in the form of loans for qualifying projects, and must be matched by at least 20 percent of funds from other sources. The loan maximum is $250,000, but could be higher depending on the amount of qualifying applications received and the caliber of proposed projects.

The Freight Rail Assistance Program is a grant program open to applicants in both the public and private sector and is directed toward larger projects where it is difficult to gain a contribution and where the rail location or the project is of strategic importance to the local community and the state. The legislature will allocate $2.75 million for freight rail assistance projects during the 2011–2013 Biennium. The legislature determines how those funds will be spent based upon the applications submitted through WSDOT and may choose to increase or decrease the actual funding made available for the 2011-2013 Biennium.

Project proposals for these programs should result in benefits to the state including improved freight mobility; increased economic development and domestic and international trade; reduced congestion and roadway maintenance and repair costs; and preservation and restoration of rail corridors and infrastructure.

Project examples include:

— Rehabilitate, restore, add, or upgrade tracks;

— Provide a rail connection to existing industries not currently served by rail;

— Develop rail infrastructure that can be proven essential to attract new businesses or repair damaged rail infrastructure;

— Increase rail system capacity and/or velocity in general;

— Preserve a rail corridor;

— Improve connections to a port or transload facilities;

— Development of strategic multimodal consolidation centers;

— Improvements and/or additions to terminals, bridges, trestles, and other railroad structures.

Applications must be post-marked no later than Aug. 20, 2010. Applications may be submitted electronically to or by mail at WSDOT State Rail & Marine, P.O. Box 47407, Olympia, WA 98504-7407. Applications may not be submitted by fax.

WSDOT will provide the legislature with a prioritized list of projects by Nov. 1, 2010. If approved, the funds will be available after July 2011.

Additional information is available on WSDOT’s Web site at .