Harder Secures Over $17 Million Federal Investment for Sierra Northern Railroad

June 12, 2019
Press Release
Will Fund 55 Miles of Track Improvements from Riverbank to Standard

WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) today announced that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has agreed to his request to provide robust federal funding for the Sierra Northern Railroad’s track improvement program. The railroad will receive $17,415,000 to fund 55 miles of track and safety improvements through the Department’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program.

“This is a huge win – we’re talking about literally millions of dollars to build our infrastructure here in the Valley,” said Rep. Harder. “Track improvements make our communities safer and create jobs in the process – we’ve been overlooked for years, but now that’s finally changing.”

“These investments in intercity passenger and freight rail will benefit surrounding communities, make grade crossings safer and improve service reliability,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

“We’re appreciative of Congressman Harder’s partnership on this project and excited to bring the first large scale update in efficiency, safety, and capacity to our rail line,” said Ken Beard, President of Sierra Northern Railroad. “This grant will help us to better support and serve current customers while also expanding our abilities to create new jobs, strengthen the economy, and build new business relationships.”

Rep. Harder worked directly with Sierra Northern Railway (SNR) to support their application for federal funding, including by writing a letter of support directly to DOT requesting full funding for the local project.

The investment will allow SNR to replace 90,000 aging railroad ties of the line’s 175,000 railroad ties and improve safety at ten railroad crossings, the most likely site of railway accidents. These upgrades will increase the capacity, safety, and efficiency of the line, which transports over 6,000 carloads annually. The railroad moves a variety of essential goods to the agricultural communities and small cities in Eastern Stanislaus County.

Sierra Northern Railway is one of only 600 short line railroads in the US. These lines provide critically needed “last mile” access and delivery of goods like propane to rural communities while taking trucks off the road and reducing the burden on our roadways. The railroad was formed in August 2003 through the merger of two Northern California shortline railroads: the Sierra Railroad Company and the Yolo Shortline Railroad. Sierra Northern currently operates approximately 75 miles of track in northern California through the heart of a number of California's prime industrial areas, including in Stanislaus County.

The CRISI grant program directs critical investment to rural America. By directing at least 25 percent of available funds towards rural communities, the Department is able to safely connect and upgrade rural America’s rail infrastructure.