WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today applauded the $6.8 million in funding announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation for regional rail improvements related to natural gas development. The funding for the Lycoming County government and the SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority would allow upgrades to expand the capacity, efficiency and safety of Pennsylvania’s short line rail network in Lycoming, Centre, Blair and Northumberland counties.
“These infrastructure improvements will pay dividends through job creation and increased economic development,” said Senator Casey. “The construction of new tracks and rehabilitation of old ones will position the railroads to accommodate increases in rail freight traffic associated with natural gas exploration and production in the Marcellus Shale formation.”
The project – which includes 200 miles of track improvements and bridge rehabilitation – is expected to create more than 300 construction jobs in Pennsylvania and will build infrastructure to support Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits. The grant, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER II (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program, will be matched by $4.6 million from the Susquehanna Economic Development Association – Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority.
Senator Casey supported this project during the application process last year and fought efforts to eliminate funding for the project. He sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood along with other members of the Pennsylvania delegation expressing support for this initiative. Last month, Senator Casey wrote to the Senate Appropriations Committee expressing his opposition to efforts in the House to rescind a previously appropriated $10 million TIGER II competitive award.
Senator Casey noted the importance of improving rail projects in the region to accommodate increased traffic associated with natural gas exploration and production in the Marcellus Shale formation.