April 9, 2023 - TRA Newswire -

It's called HART and that stands for Houston Area Rail Transformation. It's a way that various agencies are going to be able to collaborate with each other and make it easier for motorists to deal with trains in the Bayou City and suburbs. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that there are about 1,200 road-rail crossings within the Houston area that affect over five million vehicles a day. 

Tyson Moeller, General Director of Network Development for Union Pacific and Gulf Coast Rail District Director Katherine Parker made the announcement about HART at the Southwestern Rail Conference last week in Hurst, Texas.

A working group of stakeholders began meeting in September 2022 and was established as a committee of the Gulf Coast Rail District (GCRD) on January 17 this year by Board action. The object is to leverage public and private funding for railroad projects across the region.

There are already pending grant applications to for a number of projects, if approved, will make it easier to get across the Houston region without facing delays at railroad crossings. 

Stakeholders include representatives from the railroads (Union Pacific, BNSF, Houston Belt and Terminal Railway and the Port Terminal Railroad Association); Port of Houston; City of Houston; Harris County; METRO; Houston-Galveston Council of Governments; TxDOT and adjacent counties outside of Harris County.

Grant applications have been submitted by the City and Port of Houston for the Federal Railroad Administration Railroad Crossing Elimination program,; by the city and port and Harris County for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program, and by the cities of Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Richmond and Fort Bend County for the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants program. The CRISI grant application also includes a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ-8) to encourage economic development by the Gulfgate Redevelopment Authority on the city's Southeast side.