two large freight rail cars sit empty on rail road tracks

Freight cars stand in a rail yard.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is accepting grant applications under the Industrial Rail Access Program, which helps to increase rail and freight access, economic opportunity and job growth.

The Industrial Rail Access Program provides grants to railroads, rail shippers and municipalities for projects that will create public benefits by improving access to freight rail service. The program, now in its seventh year, leverages private investment to encourage Massachusetts industries to use freight rail – a choice that offers energy and environmental benefits and can help reduce truck traffic.

Projects will be approved based on consistency with program requirements and the level of public benefits they offer, such as system preservation, mobility, economic development and safety.

In the most recent round of IRAP awards, more than $1.8 million was distributed to five projects across the state. The five projects are expected to create at least 60 new jobs, eliminate 24,300 regional truck trips each year, and support more than 3,650 rail cars each year. State funding for these five projects will be matched by more than $2.4 million in private funds.

The transportation bond bill filed by Gov. Charlie Baker on July 25 includes a reauthorization for IRAP grants.

For more information and to apply to the IRAP program, visit www.mass.gov/industrial-rail-access-program. Applications are due on Aug. 29.