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WASHINGTON D.C. — Work can begin on the Appalachian Regional Short-Line Rail project with the signing of a $12.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced. The signing took place on Dec. 1, 2010, between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The project will improve infrastructure on five short-line railroads running through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee, benefiting several economically distressed counties.

The project will rehabilitate hundreds of miles of track on five unconnected short-line railroads in the three states and includes grade crossing, bridge, and tunnel improvements. Once complete, the improvements will speed up delivery time, allowing goods to reach their markets more quickly and at less cost.

"This project is about increasing efficiency to boost economic competiveness and make it easier for businesses to ship their products,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “It’s also about making better use of all transportation modes through targeted investment.”

The project is expected to encourage shippers to shift the transport of hazardous commodities and chemicals from truck to rail, increasing safety and reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

“TIGER grants have been reserved for projects that help achieve the department’s strategic transportation goals,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “They also embody the best aspects of public-private partnerships that yield positive benefits for all stakeholders.”

Tennessee also is receiving $2.8 million and West Virginia $1.7 million, bringing the total grant to $17.5 million for this project.

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