Maine will receive $17.5 million in federal funds to upgrade tracks and infrastructure along 75 miles of rail lines in central and southern Maine.

The Federal Railroad Administration funds will be used to replace 37 miles of railroad tracks, upgrade 25 switches, improve rail crossings, update aging signal systems, extend an existing side track and replace decking timbers on eight bridges. The projects are located on mainline tracks operated by Pan Am Railway

According to the office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, which announced the award Friday evening, the money will help improve rail safety by replacing equipment that is nearly 50 years old in some sections. The money was included in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2018 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program.

“In my travels throughout Maine, I’ve seen firsthand the positive effects of investing in our railroads to improve safety and boost our economy,” Collins, who chairs the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement. “Enhancing the rail connection between manufacturers and the forest products industry and their markets can create a competitive advantage for Maine, helping to create jobs in rural parts of our state.”

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