The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department will receive a $2,721,435 federal grant to rehabilitate and improve 40 miles of railroad track along the Warren Branch of the Arkansas Midland Railroad, a short line railroad located in southeastern Arkansas, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Mike Ross and U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman.

The grant will help fund improvements to tracks in Bradley, Chicot and Drew counties.

“Rail continues to be an important part of the economy throughout Arkansas, particularly in the Delta,” Ross said. “Rail is critical to almost every industry in our state, from manufacturing to agriculture and timber.  By improving these rail lines, we not only make transportation safer, but also more efficient.  This investment will help businesses throughout southeastern Arkansas strengthen and grow their operations, boosting our economy and creating more jobs.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which issued the grant, said the planned improvements will remedy poor track conditions caused by inadequate drainage and heavy freight loads that have contributed to washouts, broken rails, derailments and the imposition of slow orders by the FRA, reducing train speeds.

“Strong transportation infrastructure is critical to economic development and job growth in our local communities,” Pryor said.  “This funding will help the Arkansas Midland Railroad make important infrastructure upgrades to improve efficiency and expand business opportunities in southeast Arkansas.”

Boozman said improving railroad infrastructure is a sound investment that will provide jobs to construct the line while creating long-term economic opportunities in Southeast Arkansas.