Rail District Hopes To Start Preliminary Work On Crossing Upgrade Project

Drivers wait for a freight train to pass on Cullen Street near Leeland.
The Gulf Coast Rail District is getting ready to take the next step in a major project designed to eliminate long waits at some railroad crossings.

The Rail District hopes to secure a $5 million federal grant for preliminary studies on the West Belt grade separation project.

The goal is to eliminate at-grade crossings at five locations along the double tracks that run through Houston's East End. 

But to get that grant, the Rail District has to get a 20% local match, and they're hoping the money comes from the Houston Belt and Terminal Railway, which operates the tracks. 

Maureen Crocker is the Rail District's executive director.

"If we can get the funding nailed down at the end of this month we should be able to execute the contract in September and get the consultant working. And depending on the length of the environmental process, we may have final design for these projects in two to three years."

Crocker says if the agreement isn't finalized the Rail District may have to scale down the project, but she's hoping that doesn't happen.

"I believe that the few minor issues that will still have hanging out there can be resolved. We've come a long way and really spent a lot of time on the detail of these projects."    

As for what those grade separations would look like, Crocker says four of the crossings would get underpasses, while the crossing at Cullen and Leeland could get either an underpass or an overpass. 

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...