NellieBly wrote:The state is hoping to use Omya's contribution plus the $19 million in earmark money (which is "no year" money) as the local match for a TIGER grant to cover the cost of upgrades between Middlebury and Rutland, including CWR, ties, surfacing, and bridge strengthening. This will not be an HSR project; it will be for both freight and passenger service. Omya will stop running the 177 truck trips and will operate two 20-car trains a day.
This is a "win-win" for the state of VT, its people, and Omya. I hope to see Amtrak running to Burlington within a couple of years. But first, the state has to get that TIGER grant.
There is $527 million authorized for TIGER FY2011 grants. The competition for those funds will be pretty intense, as it was for the 2 previous rounds. However, Vermont might have a decent shot as part of the FY2010 TIGER grants had to go to rural areas. (Presumably the US Senate having it's say). Since there are not exactly many streetcar, light rail, pedestrian, bicycle, urban highway removal projects in rural areas, many of the rural FY2010 grants went to freight rail related projects. There are highway projects in the awarded TIGER grants, but not that many.
Looking up the FY2011 TIGER grants, if I am reading the Federal Register correctly, $140 million will have to go to "rural" areas. If Vermont plays up the benefits of removing 177 daily truck trips beating up the local state roads and adding to air pollution, with a secondary benefit of getting some of the track & signal upgrades needed for passenger rail, and asks for an amount that can be handled by the FY11 funding, Vermont might get selected. Most of the FY10 TIGER grants were between $10 and $20 million with only 5 grants larger than $20 million, so Vermont is not likely to get more than $15 to $20 million. One question is whether the Jeffords earmark money will be considered as legit for local match. The second is whether Rutland to Burlington would be considered as a rural area. I would with the possible exception of Burlington itself, but I can see where the federal rules for the definition of a "rural" area can get very funky given the effect on distribution of federal funding.
As for the Jeffords earmark money, it has been in the books for a while. Is there a reason why Vermont has not tapped more of it before now?