September 28, 2020 - TRA Newswire -

Four more rail projects in Texas have received over $14 million from the USDOT's Federal Railroad Administration as part of a $320 million competitive grant funding under the FY2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program (CRISI).

The projects selected include a wide variety of railroad investments that improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of freight and intercity passenger service.

A $10 million dollar federal grant was awarded to the Kiamichi Railroad which operates a 40-mile branch line from Antlers, Oklahoma to Paris in Northeast Texas. The Kiamichi is a Class III short-line railroad headquartered in Hugo, Oklahoma that also operates in Arkansas. The improvements include replacement of 23 miles of rail and 15 turnouts, reinforcement of 31 bridges, restoration of 13 miles of track, and upgrades to nearly three dozen grade crossings. Kiamichi is one of the short line railroads owned by Genesee and Wyoming.

Blacklands Railroad, Inc., operating in Northeast Texas received $8,480,000 to rehab and improve sidings on the Henderson-Overton Branch.  The funding will help improve the safety and reliability of track owned by Rusk County Rural Rail District and operated by the Blacklands Railroad in Rusk County, Texas. The grant allows the installation of  new railroad ties to refurbish approximately 13.7 miles of rail between Overton and Henderson; construction of three interchange sidings with Union Pacific at Overton; construction of one unit train siding at Henderson; and purchase of equipment including locomotives, crew cars, and high-railers. Rehabilitation of the line allows for an increase of freight rail speed from 10 m.p.h. to 25 m.p.h., and construction of the sidings will increase operational efficiency and lower operating costs by reducing operating hours by 6 hours every day.

$2,315,000 was awarded by the feds to CapMetro in Austin.  This investment will help replace truss and deck girder spans for an approximately 100-year old railroad bridge along Capital Metro’s East Subdivision short-line railroad over Walnut Creek in Austin, Texas. The federal grant will Improve related walkways and handrails, bridge pier and abutment bearings, new bridge ties, and track surface.

The Texas Gonzales and Northern Railroad (TXGN) will receive $2,223,000 for their Harwood Interchange Improvement Project. This funding will help improve the the short line railroad's interchange point with Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) at Harwood, Texas. The program will improve approximately 9,000 feet of track; build a new siding parallel to the TXGN’s mainline running south from the interchange along with associated switch improvements; improve road access to the interchange area; and replace two small wood trestle railroad bridges with concrete culverts. Extending the siding allows TXGN to accommodate UPRR’s longer trains and the bridge upgrades will allow TXGN to handle 286,000 pound rail carloads.

A $1,451,000 federal grant to the Texas Department of Transportation allow grade crossing improvements at FM 1660S and U.S. 79 in the Central Texas city of Hutto. The grant allows construction of a median to prevent or limit the opportunity for drivers to circumnavigate the railroad gates and sidewalks to safely channel pedestrians toward a nearby elementary school.  It improves the crossing profile to reduce the opportunity for low ground clearance vehicles to become immobilized and enhances the railroad preemption to safely clear motorists off the crossing intersection prior to trains approaching.