Railroad Projects in Prairie du Chien

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Several railroad projects 

set for Prairie du Chien area

By Ted Pennekamp


Prairie du Chien and the surrounding area will be part of seven freight rail improvement projects totaling more than $31 million in grants and loans through Wisconsin’s freight railroad assistance program and other entities. The goal of the freight railroad assistance program is to increase the use of rail transportation and support economic development and job creation.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is distributing more than $24 million in grants through the Freight Railroad Preservation Program (FRPP). FRPP grants cover up to 80 percent of project costs to help preserve freight rail service or rehabilitate track on publicly-owned rail lines. In addition, WisDOT is providing loans worth more than $7 million through the state’s Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program (FRIIP). FRIIP is a revolving loan program used to improve rail infrastructure and construct new rail-served facilities. 

Recipients for 2015-2016 include the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Company (WSOR). WSOR received four project awards:

•Prairie Subdivision-Phase 1 rail replacement: $2,543,608 FRPP grant and $317,951 FRIIP loan to replace existing 85 and 90-pound rail with 115 pound continuously-welded rail on 2.4 miles of track in Prairie du Chien. Five public crossings and 10 turnouts also will be reconstructed between Prairie du Chien and Wauzeka.

•Prairie Subdivision-Phase 2 tie replacement: $2,978,400 FRPP grant and $372,300 FRIIP loan to replace ties and resurface track on 45.5 miles of track between Avoca in Iowa County and Prairie du Chien on the Prairie Subdivision in preparation of installing continuously-welded rail. WSOR will replace 30,000 ties between Avoca and Prairie du Chien during this phase of work on the Prairie Subdivision.

Another project affecting Prairie du Chien will be the Spring Green Bridge Reconstruction/Replacement: $10,428,912 FRPP grant and $1,303,614 FRIIP loan to replace several of the spans that comprise a bridge located near Spring Green. This project has been identified by engineering studies as necessary to keep the Prairie du Chien-to-Madison rail line operational.

“The Wisconsin and Southern Railroad remains committed to building Wisconsin’s economy by investing in railroad infrastructure that serves communities like Prairie du Chien,” said Ken Lucht, director of Government Relations, Watco Companies. “Improvements such as these will improve service and economic competitiveness to Prairie du Chien area businesses and make our corridors safer to operate.”

The Prairie du Chien-to-Madison rail line is co-owned by WisDOT and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission.

Since 1994, WisDOT has provided more than $195 million in FRPP grants and more than $120 million in FRIIP loans to help fund 160 infrastructure acquisition, rehabilitation and improvement projects statewide.

Wisconsin’s rail system consists of 10 freight railroads which operate more than 3,500 miles of track in the state. Each year, more than 200 million tons of cargo is moved by rail.

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