The Rail Industrial Access (RIA) program provides funds to construct railroad tracks for new or substantially expanded industrial and commercial projects having a positive impact on economic development in Virginia.

The Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) administers the RIA, which is subject to the approval of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). This program is open to businesses, municipalities, economic development entities, and railroads. The limited funding shall be used for track facilities and engineering, but not for utility relocation or right‐of‐way acquisition. Recipients will be required to confirm that initial expectations regarding anticipated carload figures were met.  

Contacts

Linda J. Balderson
Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation

Eligibility

RIA is intended to assist the following project types:

  • Track construction to new commercial or industrial facilities.
  • Track construction or improvement to substantially expanding existing commercial or industrial facilities.

Projects ineligible for this program are:

  • Right‐of‐way acquisitions
  • Utility relocations
  • Track and switches to clear point-connecting access track to main line
  • Railroad operations and maintenance
  • Track construction with rail smaller than 115 pounds per yard

Eligible recipients are:

  • Business, commercial, or industrial enterprises
  • Local governments acting on behalf of enterprises
  • Local departments of economic development acting on behalf of enterprises
  • Railroads

Process

  • Applications are submitted to the Department of Rail and Public Transportation via email or hardcopy.Application and Program Guidance are available via the Department’s OLGA website.
  • Applications may be submitted at any time. The application must include: estimated project cost (eligible project cost, site preparation, track work, engineering, and environmental mitigation); approximate cost of new facility, if applicable; estimated railcar and employment projections; resolution from local governing body supporting the proposed project; location sketch and outline of the proposed project; drawing of proposed track project showing clear points; certification of continuous maintenance and liability; guarantees of right‐of‐way; letter from mainline operator for serving the industry or business, approving the plans of the proposed access track, and common carrier status; and detailed background information/summary on the applicant business/entity.
  • The DRPT Program Manager reviews the application for eligibility and supporting documentation. The DRPT Program Manager requests additional information from the applicant within 10 days, if needed.

    • The DRPT Program Manager conducts a second-level application review using the Project Selection Criteria Point System, which incorporates these criteria: number of carloads, added employment, track funds vs. capital investment cost, unemployment, inclusion in other Virginia economic development initiatives, contribution to track construction, shortline viability (if located on a shortline railroad), and number of rail cars versus trucks that will be used to serve the facility.
    • The DRPT Program Manager calculates the minimum carload requirement by referring to the minimum number of carloads on the scoring sheet, which would still allow the application to score the 50 points needed for the project to proceed to the CTB for approval.
  • Project Recommendation – For an application that scores 50 application points or higher, the DRPT Project Manager prepares a project presentation, which includes a map showing general location and detailed site information, and a draft decision brief for the next CTB meeting. DRPT presents the proposed project at the next scheduled CTB meeting following receipt of the complete, eligible application. After presentation of the proposed project, the DRPT Program Manager prepares a resolution for presentation at the next CTB action meeting. The local resolution must be received for the project to be presented before the CTB.
  • CTB Approval Process – DRPT briefs the CTB with the proposed project presentation and decision brief during the CTB’s workshop session. The CTB makes a decision on the resolution at its next scheduled action meeting, which is usually 30 days later. 
  • Grant Agreement – The DRPT financial programming section assigns a project number for each project resolution approved by the CTB. Recipients must submit a Virginia Substitute W‐9 tax form prior to their project number being assigned. The DRPT Program Manager prepares a project agreement and routes the agreement through the Office of the Attorney General and internally at DRPT for approval before sending it to the recipient for execution.  

FAQ

Are there design/construction requirements for new rail facilities receiving funding?

New facilities must be designed and constructed to meet the approval of the connecting mainline railroad operator. The applicant must provide continuous maintenance in accordance with American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) standards for the lifetime of the project.

What happens if the recipient fails to meet the minimum carload performance requirements of the grant agreement?

In the event a recipient has missed its target minimum carload requirement, the RIA repayment policy provides a proportionate credit for the partial public benefit achieved by RIA grantees. Repayment schedules shall be as specified in the grant agreement between the Department and the recipient. Any interest is applied according to the terms of the grant agreement.

What reporting requirements exist for the recipient once the grant is awarded?

The DRPT Program Manager sends a request for railcar data annually on a fiscal year schedule to the recipient to verify its carload usage.  

How long does the recipient have to make the necessary improvements?

The recipient has two years from the CTB date of project approval to complete the project.   

How long does the recipient have to meet carload performance requirements?

After project acceptance by the Department and payment of the invoice, the recipient has a three-year performance period to reach minimum carload projections committed to on their application.

Does the recipient take ownership of the materials of the project upon completion?

For each project using state funds, DRPT retains its right of contingent interest in the materials of the project for a 15‐year contingent interest period according to the terms of the executed agreement.