Freight Railroad Preservation Program

WisDOT requests public comment on Freight Railroad Preservation Program

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is seeking public comment on its draft Freight Railroad Preservation Program (FRPP) policy revision which, when finalized, will provide guidance for the program’s project selection process.

The program is intended to preserve railroad service by providing grants up to 80% of the cost to rehabilitate railroad trackage or purchase abandoned lines. The draft policy revision is available for review.

Comments on the policy revision will be accepted through July 31​, 2024.

Please direct comments to:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation​
Division of Transportation Investment Management
4822 Madison Yards Way, 6th Floor South
P.O. Box 7913
Madison, WI 53707-7913
Phone: (608) 267-3703


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 governmen​​ts 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, more than $326​​ million in grants have been awarded for rail acquisition and rehabilitation projects. The FY2022-2023 state budget provides $20 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 2025​​ FRPP application materials are available to download:

For additional information, please contact:

Ben Mohlke
Railroads and Harbors Section, WisDOT
(608) 267-3703​