July 16, 2019 - TRA Newswire -

The Rail Division of the Texas Department of Transportation now has its first Deputy Director. He is Colt Amberg, a 6 year veteran of TxDOT who previously served as Project Development Manager.

Amberg managed the Unified Transportation Plan (UTP), the 10-year guiding light for what TxDOT can build. The UTP serves as the plan for when officials can spend money on specific projects. If a project is included in the UTP it does not guarantee that it will advance but projects that are excluded are generally shelved and not included in state funding. 

Previous to his TxDOT career, Amberg worked for Norfolk Southern in the Chicago area as a Transportation Operations Manager. In his position under Rail Division Director Peter Espy Amberg will manage daily operations and implementation of federal and state funded programs along with management of state owned rail facilities. TxDOT advertised for the position, the first for the Rail Division, back in March.

Previous to his rail career, Amberg served with the U.S. Air Force from 2003 to 2012 in Germany, Arizona and Arkansas. He holds a Masters Degree from the University of Arkansas in Operations Management and Supervision.

Amberg was quoted in the Houston Chronicle this past week concerning the Houston area Grand Parkway project that could face removal of a tollway component in Fort Bend, Brazoria and Galveston counties in the 10 year UTP.  “We are looking for non-tolled solutions to the highway system going forward,” he said.  Chronicle Transportation Reporter Dug Begley said that "the UTP is divided among 13 categories, ranging from alternative projects such as bike trails and transit — which also find money elsewhere — to preventative maintenance and roadway safety. Projects can use money from various categories, depending specifics and whether they fit the criteria to spend that pot of money. For the decade, officials plan to spend $76.2 billion, mostly on highway improvements, repairs and expansions." 

The Rail Division was established in 2009 when stakeholders, including Texas Rail Advocates, petitioned the Texas Transportation Commission to establish the agency. Previously rail issues were handled part-time through four employees in the TxDOT Multi-Modal section and before that through the Texas Railroad Commission, which still maintains its name but has responsibility for the energy sector.