Federal funds to tackle blocked railroad crossings are heading to Tarrant County as part of the latest pool of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dollars announced.
The Texas Department of Transportation will be receiving over $17 million to construct a four-lane overpass at the railroad track crossings on Bonds Ranch Road near Saginaw. The construction would include new shared-use bicycle and pedestrian pathways, providing transportation alternatives for residents and first responders to get to their destinations.
In total, Texas will receive nearly $87 million in funding to reduce train-vehicle collisions and blocked crossings. Blocked crossings occur when stopped trains impede the flow of traffic at railroad tracks for extended periods of time.
“We’re funding new infrastructure to address the challenges through the first-ever federal program dedicated to eliminating railroad crossings,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose during a press event in Fort Worth. “Here in Texas, we’re awarding five grants that totaled nearly $87 million, the highest total amount.”
Fort Worth and BNSF, which owns the railroad line, will contribute $4 million and $1.5 million respectively. About $229,000 from the Federal Highway Administration is also included.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $22.9 million.
“Collaboration is absolutely key to advancing any project, and I hope to see similar partnerships going forward,” Bose said. “Public and private partnerships provide widespread benefits, whether it’s reliability, resiliency or capacity. Modernizing America’s rail network and transportation system is a win-win for us all.”
Texas has the highest number of blocked crossings in the nation, with over 5,000 reported by the public since June 2022, according to Federal Railroad Administration data. Nearly 270 blocked crossings were reported in Tarrant County in the past year.
Bonds Ranch Road had at least eight reported blocked crossings since June 2022, lasting between 30 minutes to over an hour. In one instance dating from March, first responders were unable to cross the tracks for over an hour due to a stationary train. The report also states that pedestrians were observed climbing on, over, or through the train cars.
According to TxDOT, the average annual railroad-related crash rate for Bonds Ranch Road is double the statewide average.
TxDOT notes in its application for the grant that the current two-lane road is blocked multiple times per day due to high train volume (about 36 trains per day) and rail operations from the nearby BNSF Alliance Intermodal Facility. The crossing has also faced closures due to flooding during heavy rain events.
An estimated 18,000 vehicles travel along the train crossing at Bonds Ranch Road daily. There are over 10,000 residents that live within a two-mile radius of the project, according to TxDOT.
“Look at the safety benefits of this particular improvement where you now don’t have to risk your life either trying to beat a train or waiting on the train,” said Michael Morris, director of transportation at the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
TxDOT studied the area’s freight mobility in 2019 and identified this corridor as a top location in Dallas-Fort Worth for crossing improvements.
The city of Fort Worth recently allocated $31.5 million, including some funding from its 2022 bond, to widen parts of Bonds Ranch Road from US 287 to Wagley-Robertson Road into a four-lane road. However, the funding was not enough to include improvements to the rail crossings.
US 287 interchanges and some of the roundabouts along the highway will also undergo construction in the near future to improve mobility.
The key to getting all projects along Bonds Ranch Road completed will come down to timing and working in phases, said Kelly Porter, assistant director of transportation and public works for the city of Fort Worth.
“There is already going to be an interim improvement on Bonds Ranch Road where we’re going to add a center turn lane and some other safety improvements before the bigger construction starts because it is such an immediate need,” Porter said. “We’ll be coordinating with TxDOT… Those are all conversations we have over time with them.”
Construction is set to start in 2026 and be operational by 2028.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter at @ssadek19.
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