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City of Houston Awarded $36.91 Million in Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Funding, Largest Allocation in the State of Texas


The United States Department of Transportation announced today that the City of Houston will receive $36.91 million in federal funding through the Railroad Crossing Elimination grant program for the West Belt Improvement Project (Phase I). The award is the largest allocation in the state of Texas.

This funding will ensure the reconstruction of the Navigation Boulevard railroad underpass and the construction of the Commerce Street underpass.  Additionally, a new underpass on York Street will be constructed.

The Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This competitive discretionary grant program will help improve safety, eliminate lengthy delays at railroad crossings, and lower the costs of transporting goods, thus making them more affordable for American families. Today’s announcement is the fourth grant awarded to the City of Houston since the law passed in 2021.

The West Belt Improvement Project (Phase 1) is the first phase of implementing a future 14,600-foot sealed rail corridor along the Houston Belt & Terminal Railroad’s West Belt Subdivision. Phase 1 includes the construction of four underpasses and closure of four at-grade crossings to eliminate seven existing at-grade crossings and reconstruct one underpass to current standards. When completed, Phase 1 will have an opportunity to create a 9,000-foot sealed corridor and quiet zone.

“This funding is a crucial step in improving transportation equity for all users,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The West Belt Improvement Project will help address the impacts of slow, stopped and longer trains that block crossing by eliminating the at grade conflict. This will enhance safety for our first responders and increase travel reliability for those commuting and living in the East End.”

A study completed by the Gulf Coast Rail District in 2012 identified Commerce/Navigation and York/Sampson, as critical for general purpose connectivity and as alternate routes for emergency responders. The Commerce Street/Navigation Boulevard underpass will provide direct access to downtown, Dynamo Stadium, and Minute Maid Park. The York Street underpass will provide direct access to Interstate Highway 45, University of Houston, and Texas Southern University.

The City of Houston thanks the following elected officials, community partners, and stakeholders for their support:

•    Texas State Senator Carol Alvarado, District 6
•    Gabe Cazares, Executive Director, LINKHouston
•    Texas State Representative Ana Hernandez, House District 143
•    Councilmember Robert Gallegos, District I
•    Marc D. Williams, P.E., Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation
•    Councilmember Karla Cisneros, District H
•    Texas State Senator Borris Miles, District 13
•    Veronica Chapa Gorczynski, President, East End District
•    Clint Schelbitzki, Assistant Vice President Public Affairs, Union Pacific Railroad
•    David Hawes, Executive Director, Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority (TIRZ 23)
•    Ramiro Barba, General Manager, Houston Belt and Terminal Railway Company
•    Frances Castañeda Dyess, President, East End Chamber of Commerce
•    John Walker, President, Houston Dynamo Football Club
•    Thomas C. Lambert, President & Chief Executive Officer, METRO
•    Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, District 18
•    Gordon Quan, Chairman, Board of Directors, East Downtown Redevelopment Authority (TIRZ 15)
•    Texas State Representative Harold Dutton, Jr., District 142
•    Texas State Representative Christina Morales, District 145
•    Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, District 29

More details about the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program and the West Belt Improvement Project (Phase 1) can be found here.