President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes the first-ever dedicated grant program to help communities eliminate points where railroad tracks intersect with roads, which have blocked vehicle and pedestrian traffic, led to deadly vehicle-rail collisions, and prevented first responders from reaching emergencies
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced it has awarded nearly $87 million to the state of Texas in Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) Grant Program funding for 5 projects. Nationally, the RCE Program will provide over $570 million in funding for 63 projects in 32 states. This inaugural round of funding will address more than 400 at-grade crossings nationwide, improve safety, and make it easier to get around railroad tracks by adding grade separations, closing at-grade crossings, and improving existing at-grade crossings where train tracks and roads intersect.
Preventing blocked crossings and collisions is one of many ways President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will make a difference in people’s everyday lives by improving safety and convenience and creating good-paying jobs to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. Last year, there were more than 2,000 highway-rail crossing collisions in the U.S. and more than 30,000 reports of blocked crossings submitted to FRA’s public complaint portal.
“Every year, commuters, residents, and first responders lose valuable time waiting at blocked railroad crossings – and worse, those crossings are too often the site of collisions that could be prevented,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we’re improving rail crossings in communities across the country to save lives, time, and resources for American families.”
For years, FRA has received complaints from citizens, states, and localities regarding the delays and disruptions caused by frequently blocked crossings that force residents to wait hours at intersections or take detours. These delays and disruptions can also prevent first responders from getting to emergencies quickly. Further, over 2,000 collisions occur every year at highway-rail grade crossings. The projects selected for funding in the first year of this program will greatly improve the quality of life in communities big and small, creating safer rail crossings and allowing people to get to and from their homes, schools, businesses, hospitals, fire stations, and workplaces without being stranded and delayed by a standing train.
“The Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program is another critical tool that FRA is using to make a lasting impact on the safety and transportation needs of communities nationwide,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “With these project selections and the many more that are to come, we will save lives and reshape infrastructure in ways that allow individuals to move through their neighborhoods seamlessly and safely.”
Along with projects that build or upgrade physical infrastructure at railroad crossings, FRA awarded $15.7 million for planning activities and $33.1 million for project development and design activities that will build a pipeline of projects for future funding. Twenty two percent of all funding, $127.5 million, was awarded to projects in rural areas or on Tribal lands.
Projects supported by RCE Program funding in Texas include:
- NE 24th Avenue Railroad Overpass ($8,425,000)
City of Amarillo
The project will eliminate an existing grade crossing by building an overpass for a five-lane arterial road over rail line. The project is set to build a modern, multi-modal bridge in the Eastridge Neighborhood in East Amarillo, resulting in a safe connection for all modes of transportation for residents of Eastridge and surrounding neighborhoods to the rest of Amarillo. In addition, the five-lane overpass will add capacity for motorists to NE 24th Avenue, which serves as an expanding economic anchor in the area. The City of Amarillo will contribute a 26 percent non-Federal match.
- Rittiman Road Grade Separation Project ($4,886,512)
City of San Antonio
The project will eliminate an at-grade crossing where Rittiman Road and Union Pacific’s rail line intersect through the building of a grade-separated road overpass. The project will diminish wait times that vehicular traffic encounters via trains blocking the crossing multiple times per day and improve supply chain fluidity. The City of San Antonio will partner with the Texas Department of Transportation to provide a 20 non-Federal percent match.
- US 90 Grade Separation Project ($19,550,000)
Texas Department of Transportation
The project will support the removal of two at-grade rail crossings along Waco Street and will build a grade separated bridge to eliminate the US 90 highway-rail crossing over existing tracks. FRA previously funded project development activities for these crossings under an Fiscal Year 2019 CRISI Grant. The project includes $25,466,157 in Federal Highway Administration funds, and the Texas Department of Transportation will contribute a 20 percent non-Federal match.
- Haslet-Fort Worth-Saginaw Corridor Bonds Ranch Road Grade Separation Project ($17,187,552)
Texas Department of Transportation
The project will support construction of a four-lane grade separated road with new shared-use bicycle and pedestrian pathways. This project will improve safety at rail crossing right-of way, owned by BNSF, and provide transportation modal alternatives. The project includes $229,167 in Federal Highway Administration funds, and the City of Fort Worth and BNSF will contribute 24 percent in non-Federal match funds.
- West Belt Improvement Project (Phase 1) ($36,916,200)
City of Houston
The project will advance the City of Houston’s Phase 1 effort to create a 14,600-foot sealed corridor along the Houston Belt & Terminal Railroad’s (HB&T) rail line. Phase 1 includes a 9,000-foot sealed corridor, and construction will result in seven existing grade crossings being eliminated: four being closed and four with underpasses. The project will improve the safety and mobility of freight rail operators, vehicular traffic, and non-motorized users. The City of Houston will contribute a 20 percent non-Federal match.
There are more than 130,000 miles of railroad track in the U.S. and improving safety in the communities where they run is a priority for the Department.
Over each of the next four years, additional RCE Program funding will be made available annually. Project selections for other grant programs that will improve freight rail safety and efficiency, strengthen supply chains, and expand the passenger rail network – representing billions of dollars in infrastructure law investments – will be announced in the coming months.