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State Rail Grant and Loan Programs

The State of Washington administers both a grant program and a loan program to support freight rail capital needs and investment. Five projects have received grants from the Freight Rail Assistance Program for the 2013-2015 biennium. The Freight Rail Investment Bank (loan program) has awarded funds to eleven projects for the 2013-2015 biennium.

Applications for the programs are not currently being accepted. For additional information, answers to frequently asked questions, and application requirements, please see the 2015-2017 biennium project application packets below:

Freight Rail Assistance Program application packet (pdf 311 kb)
Freight Rail Investment Bank application packet (pdf 311 kb)

The following Resource Guide should help you in successfully completing the questions (Question 6) that support your projects Benefit Cost Analysis.
Freight Rail Grant Application Resources (pdf 61 kb)

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 $7.33 million for the Freight Rail Investment Bank program during the 2013-2015 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 have to prove a minimum 20 percent match.

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 $4 million for freight rail assistance projects during the 2013–2015 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 for the 2013-2015 biennium.
  • 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.

Grant Administration and Scoring
Both programs are administered by WSDOT and require the applicants to provide a business plan for the project and are subject to a cost/benefit calculation to ensure that they are cost effective. The criteria is slightly different with the Freight Rail Investment Bank, as the application process allows the applicant to self-score 80 percent of their marks, which are based on such things as their own contribution and number of additional jobs that the project will bring to the area.

All criteria in the Freight Rail Assistance program is scored by WSDOT acting with the Washington State Department of Commerce and covers aspects of environmental improvements (aimed at achieving the governor's greenhouse gas emissions mission), transference of traffic from road to rail modes, and economic impact to the state as a whole.

For more information, contact:

Chris Herman
Freight Rail Policy and Program Manager