September 25, 2023 - TRA Newswire -

Rail improvement projects in Laredo, Brownsville and the Texas Panhandle will benefit from nearly $15 million in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program grants, the Federal Railroad Administration announced today.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's FRA arm will invest more than $1.4 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into 70 rail improvement projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C. This is the largest amount ever awarded for rail safety and rail supply chain upgrades through the country.  Projects will benefit every region of the country, with nearly two-thirds of CRISI funding flowing to rural communities.

Overall, Texas projects will only receive a 1% share of the entire $1.4 billion dollar grants. One of the criteria for awarding grants is local, regional and state cost-sharing participation. Non-federal matches for the Texas projects, from 20 to 30 percent, were shouldered by the rail companies involved.  The Texas Transportation Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation do not have a matching fund program, like other states, and is not able to participate in federal cost-sharing programs for moving people and goods by rail.  

“For years, the CRISI Program has helped to maintain and modernize America’s freight rail network, and it’s the only federal grant program prioritizing smaller, short line railroads vital to our nation’s economy and regional supply chains. With unprecedented levels of funding through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, FRA is advancing even more projects and laying the groundwork for further transformation,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “The selected projects will tackle issues facing communities and invest in a 21st century rail network yielding greater benefits – faster and more reliable deliveries of goods, safer communities, cleaner transportation, and more jobs and workforce development opportunities.”

Texas – The Sunray Agricultural Supply Chain Efficiency Project (Up to $7,342,032) Texas North Western Railway Company (TXNW) The proposed project includes project development, final design, and construction activities for track-related improvements and replacement of certain bridges.  The project aligns with the selection criteria by enhancing safety as it will modernize the TXNW, resulting in reduced risk of derailment, accommodate the 286,000-pound unit grain trains, and reduce emissions by allowing for the utilization of larger, more modern locomotives – includes those of BNSF Railway – to access a grain elevator.  Also, the project will help TXNW sustain interchange services with BNSF Railway.  TNW Corporation, owner of TXNW, will provide a 30 percent non-Federal match.  This project qualifies for the statutory set-aside for projects in Rural Areas. Sunday is located 50 miles north of Amarillo.

Texas-- Downtown Laredo Rail Corridor Safety Planning Project (Up to $4,000,000) City of Laredo, Texas. The proposed project involves project development activities for improvements to numerous grade crossings on the Laredo Rail Corridor. The project, which is being done in partnership with Canadian Pacific Kansas City Railroad (CPKC), aligns with the selection criteria by enhancing safety as it will help advance efforts to close certain at-grade crossings, build grade separated structures, and install gate and safety improvements at certain at-grade crossings.  Also, this project, if built as part of a future phase, will improve safety on the Laredo Corridor, improve efficiency and mobility on a vital cross border trade route, and support expanded capacity on CPKC’s rail network. The project will improve supply chain efficiency on a critical cross-border trade corridor and supports the key administration goal of safety. CPKC will contribute a 20 percent non-Federal match. 

Texas – Rio Valley Rail Capacity Improvement Project (Up to $3,500,000) Rio Valley Switching Company (RVSC), McAllen. The proposed project involves final design and construction activities to complete track-related improvements and upgrades to multiple bridges along an estimated 50-mile-long corridor on RVSC’s rail network.  In sections where there is Excepted track standard, the improvements will be built to FRA Class 1 track safety standards; in other sections, the project will maintain current FRA Class 1 track standards.  The project aligns with the selection criteria by improving system and service performance and safety as it will improve rail operations and safety to accommodate project growth in the Rio Valley region, as well as continue interchange services with Union Pacific.  RVSC will provide a 30 percent non-Federal match.   

“Under President Biden's leadership, we are making historic investments in rail, which means fewer accidents and delays, faster travel times, and lower shipping costs for the American people,” said USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These projects will make American rail safer, more reliable, and more resilient, delivering tangible benefits to dozens of communities where railroads are located, and strengthening supply chains for the entire country.”

Photo credit: FRA