MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- Work on installing new rails in the western Vermont rail corridor will begin soon as part of the long-term goal of restoring passenger rail service between Rutland and Burlington.
Quarter-mile-long sections of rail were delivered last week to Burlington ahead of their installment on the line between Burlington and Vergennes. Next year, crews will begin installing additional rails for a 20-mile stretch between Rutland and Leicester, said Chris Cole, the Vermont Agency of Transportation's director of policy, planning and intermodal development.
Once that work is completed, it will leave an 11-mile gap that must be filled to complete the track upgrade of the 75-mile stretch between Rutland and Burlington. Officials hope to learn next month if a federal grant for that project will be approved, Cole said.
More will have to be done before Amtrak could begin rolling between Rutland and Burlington. Those projects include upgrading 11 highway crossings and constructing siding so the freight trains that now use the tracks could be assembled without interfering with passenger traffic, Cole said.
The federal grant that Vermont officials hope to receive is part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, program.
"It's going to take us at least two years to take care of all these projects," Cole said. "The big caveat is if we get the next TIGER grant because without that, we have no funding."
If all goes well, the agency could seek funding for Amtrak service in 2018, Cole said.