Freight Railroad Preservation Program

The Freight Rail Preservation Program (FRPP) is one of two freight rail assistance programs WisDOT administers (also see the Freight Rail Infrastructure Improvement Program [FRIIP]). Wisconsin’s original rail assistance program was created in 1977 to help communities and shippers preserve freight rail service during an era when widespread railroad bankruptcies and line abandonments threatened the availability of rail service in Wisconsin.

Initially, the program was limited to grants to local governments because of constitutional restrictions on state assistance to railroads. But in 1992, Wisconsin voters approved a constitutional amendment that included railroads in the list of internal improvements state money could fund.

In 1992, the original rail assistance grant program was replaced by the current FRPP program, which provides grants to local units of government, industries, and railroads for the purpose of preserving essential rail lines and rehabilitating them following purchase. Statutory information about Wisconsin freight railroad assistance can be found in Wis. Stats. 85.08.

Since 1980, under both the original rail assistance program and FRPP, some $280 million in grants have been awarded for rail acquisition and rehabilitation projects. The FY2018-2019 state budget provides $12 million in bonding authority for the FRPP program for the biennium.

The Freight Railroad Preservation Program provides grants up to 80% of the cost:

  • To purchase abandoned rail lines in an effort to continue freight service, or for the preservation of the opportunity for future rail service
  • To rehabilitate facilities, such as tracks or bridges, on publicly-owned rail lines

SFY 2019 FRPP application materials are available to download:

For additional information, please contact:

Rich Kedzior
WisDOT Program Officer
Railroads and Harbors Section
(608) 266-7094
richard.kedzior@dot.wi.gov