Texas to seek federal funds to fix congested rail junction

Fort Worth Star-TelegramMay 28, 2010 

AUSTIN — The effort to fix a dangerous and congested rail intersection near downtown Fort Worth known as Tower 55 may finally be on track.

Texas Department of Transportation officials said Thursday that they will formally endorse an application for federal funding for the Tower 55 project, a $93.7 million proposal to modernize crossings often used by children on the way to school.

The proposal also calls for adding a third north-south crossing at Tower 55 and about 9,000 feet of new track, to reduce congestion in an area where railcars carrying hazardous materials such as chlorine often pass.

It will be the second time in a year that the federal funding has been pursued for Tower 55. Last year the state decided not to endorse specific projects, leaving it to local officials to apply for federal dollars. The so-called TIGER funds were awarded in a nationwide competition to projects considered crucial for economic recovery.

But the state's inaction proved to be a strategic error as the Tower 55 project — which was listed as the state's highest-priority rail need and seemed to meet all the federal criteria for TIGER dollars — did not receive funding when grants were announced in February.

"Tower 55 will re-emerge as the top priority rail project in the state, and this time the state of Texas is the applicant for the funds," said Texas Transportation Commissioner Bill Meadows of Fort Worth.

The commission, which oversees the Transportation Department, is expected to officially endorse Tower 55 and a handful of other projects during a special meeting June 8 in Austin.

Other candidate projects include a Gulf Coast freight rail line, the South Orient rail line near San Angelo and port projects in Brownsville and Corpus Christi.

Read more of this story at Star-Telegram.com

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