The West Calhoun Street crossing of the Louisiana & North West Railroad, which has received a grant for track improvements.

Louisiana & North West Railroad will use a $3,420,224 federal grant to upgrade its track and build three new sidings in Columbia County.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration said the L&NW project is among 50 in 29 states picked to receive competitive grant funding under the Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.

The projects selected include a wide variety of railroad investments that improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of freight and passenger service.

L&NW will improve approximately 25 miles of mainline track by installing approximately 9.4 miles of jointed rail along with approximately 7,800 ties, surfacing approximately 17 miles of track, and building three additional sidings.

The improvements to the mainline would allow the Homer, LA-based railroad to handle 286,000-pound tank cars.

“This is a great economical win for Southwest Arkansas,” said Ellie Baker, economic development director for the City of Magnolia.

“The funds will allow the LNW to improve its infrastructure to handle safer, 286,000-pound capacity rail cars as well as create three new sidings that will increase the capacity of the railroad.

“These improvements increase support of our current industry and create a transportation infrastructure on which new industry could find economically desirable to locate,” Baker said.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorized the CRISI Program to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail systems. Rural projects, which have a minimum 25 percent funding requirement under the CRISI Program, received over 60 percent of the funds announced this week.

Of the 50 projects that were awarded grants, 32 are located in Opportunity Zones, which were created to revitalize economically distressed communities using private investments.

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