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Georgia gives Norfolk Southern $8.4M grant to lengthen passing track

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(The Center Square) — Georgia taxpayers are giving a railroad company an $8.4 million grant to improve a passing track in Henry County, representing roughly 40% of the entire project.

The grant to Atlanta-based Norfolk Southern Corp. is part of the first round of the Georgia Freight Rail Program, which Georgia lawmakers created during the 2021 legislative session.

The money will help fund a portion of Norfolk Southern’s Atlanta South District passing track on the rail line between Macon and Atlanta in Henry County. Officials say the line is a key link in the freight rail corridor connecting the Georgia Port Authority Garden City Terminal and metro Atlanta.

“Georgia’s freight rail network is a key economic driver and a vital component of our overall transportation network,” Russell McMurry, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation, said in a statement. “This project will provide many benefits to Henry County and the state.”

The project, which will extend a passing track at McDonough to more than double its current length, is expected to cost roughly $21 million. Officials say the upgrades should allow more efficient use of tracks and reduce blocked rail crossings, a perpetual problem across the state.

“This funding represents a springboard for growth for our Henry County operations, thanks to the invaluable support from Georgia DOT and local officials,” Norfolk Southern Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer Mike McClellan said in a statement.

“It’s a triple win: Enhancing service for our local customers, improving mainline train access across our 22-state network, and easing congestion along the way,” McClellan added. “These infrastructure improvements will bolster our operational efficiency while driving economic growth across the region, promising enduring benefits for our communities.”