More than $8.5 million in federal grant money will be received by the city of Fort Smith to repair and rehabilitate three railroad bridges.

U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, announced Tuesday that Fort Smith will receive $8,527,893 from the U.S. Department of Transportation's TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program to repair bridges that cross Clear Creek and the Arkansas River.

Womack, representing the 3rd District, visited Fort Smith last May to travel aboard the Arkansas & Missouri and talk with A&M Railroad Chairman Caren Kraska about the $8.5 million grant application made by the city of Fort Smith to repair and rehabilitate aging railroad structures. The Arkansas River train bridge, which was built in 1886, will have many of its structural components rehabilitated, as well as the electrical and mechanical systems controlling the lift span.

The other two bridges cross Clear Creek, and the project will replace timber trestles approaching their spans, improving their safety and reliability.

“More than 50 Natural State businesses rely on these rail bridges for sending and receiving goods, and this funding will ensure that their products are able to move with greater efficiency, ultimately growing our local, regional, and national economy. I am confident it will have a positive impact on our communities,” Womack said in a news release Tuesday.

In addition to raw materials like grain, sand and lumber, the railway has become a popular tourist attraction in the spring and fall with its Excursion Train from Springdale to Van Buren. It has been carrying between 35,000 and 40,000 passengers a year.