Record-breaking Grants Offered for Those Interested in Rebuilding Railroads
Many consider consumer railroads to be deader than disco. Even in more traditional, conservative areas, "rails-to-trails" has become a popular idea. In other words, old railroads have been converted into bike and pedestrian-friendly trails, since they're the perfect width for this purpose. However, the rail industry could be making a major comeback in the United States. This is because trains can use alternative types of fuel and could end up remaining much cheaper for transit than many other types of travel.
The United States Department of Transportation is offering almost $250,000,000,000 in grants for railway infrastructure improvements. If you're looking at getting into the industry, there has never been a better time!
What Are These Grants Targeting?
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorized these taxpayer funds to be appropriated to fixing railway infrastructure. This law is part of a series of federal laws aimed at increasing the speed of travel and methods of travel within the United States. For example, new laws are expected to come out soon that will allow for the construction and better maintenance of existing freeways to allow speed limits to increase and Americans to get to where they need to go faster.
For now, this Act only had a few requirements. One of them was that 25% of funds had to go to rural projects. In these cases, the main issue is bringing transit to poorer, rural areas where many don't have access to cars. In the end, about half of the funding ended up being allocated to these communities since there is a huge need in this population.
There have been a total of 32 separate projects awarded money under this grant. Each project comes in the form of a proposal from a known company in the industry. Companies compete by "bidding" on projects, or saying how much money it would cost for them to get the work done. This, in addition to a review of their prior work and reputation, is taken into account before grants are formally awarded. Still, these companies often retain "pipeline employees" for projects like this. In other words, these are seasonal employees who are interested in working on railways.
How Do These Grants Affect Me?
The FAST Act may appear to only impact large companies at first glance, but it actually will impact you directly, should you choose to take advantage of it and live in an eligible area. Part of the Act mandates that a certain percentage of employees actually live in the areas where infrastructure for railways is being revamped. If you're unemployed in a poor area, you should immediately search for railroad jobs. They require minimal training and often pay very well; this is because part of the pay is based on the fact that the company is receiving a fair amount of "free money" from the Department of Transportation.
Even if you aren't eligible or interested in working on the railroad, chances are that the FAST Act grants will have an impact on you. Soon, there will be thousands of miles of viable railroad, similarly to how there were back when the "Wild West" existed. This bill was controversial, with many claiming that this money should be given to states to fix existing issues on roads. However, the overall goal is to decrease dependency on personal vehicles for long-distance travel. It is estimated to reduce a fair amount of ozone layer-penetrating gases, making a better world for everyone.
How Can I Review These Projects?
Given that this is a federal program, transparency is required to prevent corruption and collusion with private companies. You can review the selection process, the actual bids, and the projects that are being set into motion in a document located here.
This document is lengthy and can be difficult to review. The most interesting part for most should be the first part, where the locations of these projects are discussed and shown on a map. It could be very exciting to live in one of the rural or urban districts where there will very soon be more viable consumer rail. No longer will railways be reserved for corporations shipping products and the occasional privately chartered train. You should expect this grant to have a good impact on how people travel to faraway destinations. From how people get to work daily to how people go long distances on vacation, this may alter daily life.
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