Wicker, Cochran, Harper Announce $10 Million Grant to Upgrade Natchez Railway

Natchez Railway Bridge Upgrades Could Spur Economic Growth in Southwest Mississippi

July 27, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., with Representative Gregg Harper, R-Miss., today praised the award of a $10 million federal transportation grant to the City of Natchez to upgrade bridges on the Natchez railway.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the City of Natchez the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding to upgrade five structurally-deficient bridges along the Natchez railway between Natchez and Brookhaven. Wicker, Cochran, and Harper supported the Natchez application for federal funding.

"South Mississippi will see substantial benefits from this TIGER grant,” Wicker said. “Increasing the productivity and safety along the Natchez railway promises to boost economic growth throughout the entire region. I am pleased that these grants are being used to address critical gaps in rail service in our state.”

“Improved service along the railway would stimulate economic development at the Natchez-Adams County Port and Industrial Park, in neighboring Franklin and Lincoln Counties, and across Southwest Mississippi,” said Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “There is intense competition for TIGER grants, and I am very pleased that Natchez has successfully secured this funding.”

“This grant is an investment in Southwest Mississippi that will increase the traffic base, boost production and provide additional job opportunities,” said Harper. “More importantly, this grant assures cost effective, reliable and safe rail service for the citizens and businesses of Adams, Franklin and Lincoln Counties.”

The bridge repair work would represent a major step toward maximizing the potential of the railway. The improvements would permit railcars that meet the 286,000 pound industry standard and allow trains to travel at 25 mph over the repaired bridges. Trains are currently limited to lighter loads and must travel at 10 mph over the bridges.

The Natchez award is funded through FY2016 transportation appropriations, including $500 million overall for TIGER discretionary grants or National Infrastructure Investments. Under Cochran’s leadership, the Senate Appropriations Committee in April approved $525 million to support TIGER grants in FY2017.