October 1, 2022 - Letter to the editor / San Antonio Express-News -
As Alexandra Kanik shows in her online report on the worst train crossing stops for Bexar and surrounding counties, the winner by a large margin is the Ritterman crossing on the East Side.
More traffic and longer freight trains plague us with delays of increasingly frustrating frequency across the state. And, while these are two of the key factors for our delays there is a third: the lack of funding.
Currently projection for additional funding appears bleak. One solution would be for state legislators to adequately fund the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund that was approved by voters in 2005 but has not received a penny from the Legislature.
Texas has the potential to secure significant federal rail grants over the next five years as a result of the recently passed congressional infrastructure legislation for freight and passenger rail programs. But we have to have money available to meet the 20 to 30 percent match for these federal grants.
Texas lost out on more than $19 billion in federal rail funds over the past decade because we did not utilize a fund designed to compete for federal-state cost sharing programs. Our state always has been a strong participant in federal-state highway cost-sharing programs but not rail-related programs.
If funded, TxDOT would then be eligible to submit grants in rail-related competitive funding streams such as Grade Crossing Elimination Program as well as other rail transportation needs.
Our needs for funding must be told to our Texas state elected officials.
Letter submitted by Bruce Ashton: Director, Texas Rail Advocates; Vice-Chair, Rail Passengers Association
Photo credit: WOAI Radio, San Antonio