(The Center Square) — The state has upgraded 138 miles of the Heart of Georgia Railroad, the first project the state has completed under a federal program to upgrade rail projects nationwide.
In 2018, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded $2 million in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grant funding. The state contributed another $2 million in bond funds for the project.
This project began in July 2020 and is part of upgrading the HOG railroad as part of a multi-year Georgia Department of Transportation initiative to bring the line into Class II compliance. Work included track and rail bridge upgrades to support 286,000-pound rail cars and remove speed restrictions on sections of the line, one of several the state owns.
“These Georgia DOT owned short line railroads provide first and last mile service transporting Georgia products from customer facilities to locations across the nation,” Joanna Campbell, assistant director of the GDOT’s Division of Intermodal, said in an announcement. “CRISI Grants enable us to increase the capacity and the speed of these lines so they can provide more consistent, dependable service for manufacturers and producers in Georgia.”
The HOG runs between Preston and Vidalia, then travels north to Midville.
“For CRISI projects, the FRA remains a partner throughout the entire project participating in tasks such as reviewing scope of work, project schedules and engineering, as well as monitoring progress and ensuring the project stays on schedule,” Campbell said.
Georgia plans to spend millions of dollars in state and federal funds on upgrading state-owned rail lines to Class II standards. Officials say the upgrades will better integrate the lines with the national rail network and allow faster speeds.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor