October 10, 2015 - Texas DOT’s $101 million Tower rail 55 project is the winner of the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) President's award.
The Tower 55 project, located just southwest of downtown Fort Worth improved freight rail traffic in the region at one of the nation’s most congested rail intersections while improving community safety around railroad crossings and track.
In a related item, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) jointly named BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad winners of the 17th annual Dr. William W. Hay Award for Excellence at the Railway Interchange 2015 conference held in Minneapolis.
The project enhanced pedestrian and bicyclist access and safety at railway underpasses while also improving the underpasses for motorists and emergency vehicles. By removing two railroad crossing, rail traffic can move efficiently without the risk of collision while pedestrians and motorists can cross the rails at improved underpasses.
Constructed in 1873, Tower 55 is the nation’s busiest rail interlocking and is used by more than 100 freight and passenger trains daily, including those operated by BNSF and UP. The interlocker was retrofitted last year after three years of planning and 17 months of construction. A $34 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant helped fund the project. Partners in the project included Amtrak, the Fort Worth & Western Railroad and several consultants.
The project helped boost network capacity, improved velocity, generated fuel and emission savings, boosted crossing safety and reduced vehicular traffic delays in the area, BNSF and UP officials said during the presentation.
Each day 100 to 120 freight trains pass through this location. An additional 70 commuter/passenger trains per weekday pass by on the adjacent Trinity Railway Expresss. Due to the volume of trains, each train must come to a complete stop prior to crossing. The average wait time is 15 minutes, with 90-minute delays during peak period. Long freight trains with lengthy wait times at Tower 55 are responsible for several negative impacts to the region. The purpose of the Tower 55 project improved the movement of trains, within and around the current rail infrastructure, that converge on Tower 55.
Texas Rail Advocates was a stakeholder in the Tower 55 project and assisted with informing the public and private sector through handouts, conference presenters and public outreach.
Progressive Railroading http://www.progressiverailroading.com/class_is/news/AREMA-awards-annual-Hay-award-to-BNSF-UP-for-Tower-55-project--46020 / TRA / NCTCOG