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State Rail Grant and Loan Programs



The state of Washington administers both a grant program and a loan program designed to support freight rail capital needs. The Connecting Washington transportation package passed by the legislature and signed into law in July 2015 has increased the amount of available funding in the grant program.

For the 2019-2021 biennium, a total of $7.6 million is available for Freight Rail Assistance Program Grants and $7 million is available for Freight Rail Investment Bank loans.

The application deadline for 2019-2021 biennium funding is Sept. 21, 2018 for both grant and loan projects. Funds for both programs will be available July 2019.

The Application Packet (pdf 263 kb) contains background information on the program as well as outlining all of the elements needed as part of a proposal.

Freight Rail Investment Bank

The Freight Rail Investment Bank program is a loan program available to the public sector. This program is intended for either smaller projects or as a small part of a larger project, where state funds would enable the project to be completed.

  • The governor and state legislature allocated $7 million for the Freight Rail Investment Bank program during the 2019-2021 biennium.
  • This loan program is open to organizations in the public sector only, as loans to the private sector are outside the constitution of the state.
  • The loan maximum is $250,000, but could be higher depending on the amount of qualifying applications received and the caliber of proposed projects. Additionally, all applicants must provide a minimum 20 percent match.
  • The application deadline is Sept. 21, 2018.

Freight Rail Assistance Program

The Freight Rail Assistance Program is a grant program open to applicants in both the public and private sector. This program is directed toward larger projects where it is difficult to gain a contribution and where the rail location or the project is of strategic importance to the local community and the state.

  • The legislature allocated $7.6 million for freight rail assistance projects during the 2019–2021 biennium. It is not restricted in the size of award.
  • The legislature determines how those funds will be spent based upon the applications submitted through WSDOT. The legislature may choose to increase or decrease the actual funding made available.
  • This is a grant program and is open to cities, county rail districts, counties, economic development councils, port districts, and privately or publicly owned railroads.
  • Projects must be shown to maintain or improve the freight rail system in the state and benefit the state's interests.
  • The application deadline is Sept. 21, 2018.

Administration and Scoring

The grant and loan programs are administered by WSDOT and require the applicants to provide a business plan for the project as well as and a benefit/cost calculation to ensure they are generating public benefits.

Applicants are asked to self-score their proposals and these scores will be validated by WSDOT as part of the review process. Representatives from the Washington State Department of Commerce, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, and the Washington Public Ports Association will participate with WSDOT in evaluating projects.

For questions regarding the application process -- or to request the application packet in an alternate format -- please contact:

Mark Nickerson
Freight Rail Coordinator, WSDOT Rail, Freight and Ports Division
360-705-6983
NickMa@wsdot.wa.gov