June 12, 2019 - TRA Newswire -

Good news for Port Freeport's rail expansion plans but a ho-hum to the Texas transportation agency for their lack of effort in applying for federal rail grants that could benefit potential freight or passenger rail projects in Texas.

The number of projects that the Texas Department of Transportation filed for under the CRISI grant program: zero.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced the recipients of more than $326 million in grant funds under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program and the Special Transportation Circumstances Program, for a wide variety of state and local railroad infrastructure projects. The grants will fund 45 projects in 29 states.

“These investments in intercity passenger and freight rail will benefit surrounding communities, make grade crossings safer and improve service reliability,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

"With an amazing amount of potential freight and passenger rail improvements that could be done in Texas it's hard to understand why the Texas Department of Transportation won't be more proactive when it comes to sourcing funds to move people and goods by rail, "according to Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. "There seems to be no problem in applying for federal highway funding in Texas yet our 'highway centric' transportation agency can't seem to be bothered to apply for federal grants for rail when they are available. We do live in a state more most rail mileage than anywhere else in the nation and seem to get the smallest share when it comes to federal grants. Something is out of whack."

Port Freeport, which is 60 miles south of downtown Houston, was notified of a grant of up to $6,312,634 to add about 4.5 miles to four main tracks in their district. In 2017, Port Freeport was named one of the top 10 fastest growing ports in the United States for exports.

The 326-million dollar national grant program covered a range of freight and passenger rail projects around the country. Projects included intercity rail engineering, rail bypasses, bridge and railroad rehabs, grade crossing upgrades, alleviating freight train-vehicle/pedestrian conflicts, intercity/airport rail connections, grade separations and various safety improvements.