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TIGER Grant Might Be Cut, A Source For Rural Transportation


A group of Northwoods and Upper Peninsula counties have been working for years to keep or upgrade critical freight rail service in the region. A key grant program from which the group sought funding are among the cuts proposed by President Trump in his budget request to Congress

The Northwoods Rail Transit Commission is composed of 22 counties. Twice they've tried for what are known as TIGER grants, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants to fund infrastructure.

Wendy Gehlhoff from Florece county chairs the Commission...

".....in the past we've worked on grants that would enable us to purchase 150 log cars that would be a Great Lakes Region publically owned fleet that could be used by any railroad in Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula or northeast Minnesota....."

Their applications to the TIGER program were turned down....

"....there's been a number of different grant programs we've looked at and there's word out there may be infrastructure programs coming along and we could look at some other avenues. Basically what we learned after our last round of TIGER grants after we did not receive and award is that we needed to build a stronger case for on-the-ground infrastructure improvements. The federal or state governments were not interested in funding rolling stock for the actual(logging) cars...."

Members of the forest products industry are interested in having rail service move logs. The Commission has been trying to find a way to keep freight service here after indications that the northern freight lines are not profitable enough to maintain or expand service.

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