Texas: Let's Get Our "Fair-Share-for-Rail"

Let's Get Our "Fair-Share-for-Rail"

Governor Abbott signals the legislature: Look at worthwhile IIJA infrastructure programs
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in his proposed state budget to the 88th session of the state legislature, recommended that lawmakers look at the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and determine if there are beneficial programs that deserve a state match for available federal programs.
In the Governor's words "I recommend the 88th Legislature review programs created by the IIJA, CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act to determine which, if any, programs may be beneficial for Texas to pursue and provide any necessary non-federal matching dollars in the General Appropriations Act."

Texas House Committee on Transportation recommends using the Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund for matching IIJA rail grants

In the November 2022 Interim Report to the 88th Texas Legislature, the House Committee on Transportation issued this recommendation on Interim Charge 3:

TRANSPORTATION PLANNING URGENCY Study current and future transportation needs and consider improvements to ensure that Texas is adequately planning for the state's population growth forecasts.

"The Legislature should appropriate funding into the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund to be used as a strategic funding mechanism to assist the rail industry in seizing IIJA rail grant funds for improvements to the state's rail infrastructure. "

Texas Rail Advocates is asking the legislature for a kickstart appropriation of $200 million directed to the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund ($40 million a year over a 5 year period).

The fund is to be used to apply for new and expanded competitive federal grants for freight and conventional passenger rail projects from the Federal Railroad Administration, made available under the Infrastructure Law passed by Congress.

These rail grants, for the first time ever, require as little as a 20% state share. This is a once-in-a-generation chance to fund rail projects in the TxDOT State Rail Plan and help move people and goods in Texas.

  • Texas lost out on its share of $19 BILLION* in federal rail funds over the past 10 years.
  • Texas will not be eligible for competitive federal-state rail project funding in the Infrastructure Bill (IIJA) if we don't have a state match.
  • Texas has turned down hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in federal funds made available through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration. Those funds went to dozens of other states….. because Texas did not have any sort of state match for those federal rail funding programs.
  • If we don't match, we lose.
  • The mechanism is staring us in the face. We don't need a new bill filed. We need to activate a never-activated existing fund.

Purpose of Appropriated Fund 0306

Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund

A Constitutional fund to provide a method of financing the relocation and improvement of privately and publicly owned passenger and freight rail facilities to: relieve congestion on public highways, enhance public safety, improve air quality, expand economic opportunity and construct railroad underpasses and overpasses if a part of the relocation of a rail facility. Receives proceeds from bonds and notes and dedications and appropriations made by the legislature.

In 2009 Texans approved a Constitutional Amendment creating the Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund. It would direct the Texas Department of Transportation and their Rail Division to be involved in the planning, programming and construction of freight and passenger rail projects to move goods and people in our state.

The mechanism is in place but to date, the legislature has not appropriated the first dollar in the RRIF. That means Texas could not leverage billions of dollars over the last 10 years that the federal government has distributed to many other states in matching funds and special grants. If the state doesn't put some skin in the game, you lose the federal funds.

Let's not let another two years go by and watch dozens of other states benefit from federal rail programs while Texas stands by in idle. We want to work with our state legislators and make them aware that rail funding has been on a dead-end siding.

Here's how you can help...

Lost Opportunities for Texas

Here's just one recent example of a federal funding opportunity that Texas missed.

Just look what could be accomplished in Texas from the recently released Texas Rail Plan from the Texas Department of Transportation. Pages and pages of unfunded projects just waiting for public-private partnerships or state-federal funding matches.

Year Program Amount
2018​-2020 Restoration & Enhancement Grant $ 26,337,600
2017​-2020 State of Good Repair $ 272,000,000
2009​-2020 TIGER/BUILD $ 8,100,000,000
2020 CRISI $ 311,722,500
2019 RR Trespass Enforcement Grant $ 150,000
2019 Fed-State Partnership SOGR $ 396,000,000
2017 Positive Train Control Grant $ 199,000,000
2017 Restoration & Enhancement Grant $ 4,796,500
2016 RR Safety Infrastruct Improv Grant $ 25,000,000
2010​-2016 RR Sefety Tech Grants (total) $ 87,000,000
2015 Safe Transport of Energy Products $ 10,000,000
2008​-2011 Rail Relo & Improvement Cap Grant $ 90,000,000
2008​-2010 HS Intercity Pax Rail HSIPR $ 10,000,000,000
2008 Capital Assist States-Intercity Pax $ 30,000,000
2008 RR Rehab & Repair Disaster Assist $ 20,000,000
Total: $ 19,572,006,600

Rail Powers The Texas Economy

Supporters of Fair-Share-For-Rail

  • City of Big Spring
  • City of Giddings
  • City of Mineola
  • City of Odessa
  • City of Sweetwater
  • City of Vidor
  • East Texas Council of Governments
  • Gulf Coast Rail District
  • Harrison County Commissioners Court
  • Hopkins County Commissioners Court
  • Howard County Commissioners Court
  • Hunt County Commissioners Court
  • Jefferson County Commissioners Court
  • Lee County Commisions Court
  • Port of Galveston
  • Rusk County Commissioners Court
  • San Angelo Chamber of Commerce
  • San Angelo Economic Development
  • Titus County Commissioners Court
  • Wharton County Commissioners Court
  • Wharton Economic Development Corporation