Tower 55 Overview
Tower 55 is a vital intersection for the national rail network, and it provides connectivity for freight and passenger travel between the West Coast, Midwest, Gulf Coast, Southeast, Canada and Mexico.
Located in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, Tower 55 is one of the busiest and most congested rail intersections in the United States. Nearly 100 trains move through the intersection daily carrying high priority intermodal (truck trailers or containers on railcars) goods moving across the nation, agricultural products destined for Gulf Coast ports, industrial and manufactured goods reaching throughout North America, low-sulfur coal bound for power plants in Texas, and passengers aboard Amtrak's Heartland Flyer and Texas Eagle service. An additional 43 commuter trains pass by on the adjacent Trinity Railway Express each week day.
BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, and city and regional governments have developed plans to alleviate congestion and improve the flow of commerce through Tower 55. With funding from the Department of Transportation's National Infrastructure Investments TIGER II Discretionary Grant, Tower 55 improvements will enhance the environment, economy and lives of people living and working near Tower 55.
Given the high volume of rail traffic at Tower 55, each train must come to a complete stop prior to passing through the intersection. This creates significant traffic delays, both for rail and automobile traffic. Ninety minute train delays during peak periods are not uncommon. Additionally, congestion at Tower 55 can trigger lengthy freight diversion routes, increasing fuel consumption, atmospheric emissions, and shipping and inventory costs.
TIGER II grant funding of $34 million, TXDOT funding of $1 million, city of Fort Worth funding of $1 million, and railroad funding of approximately $65 million will be used to install new signaling, bridge upgrades, a third north/south main line, and improved street and pedestrian crossings. Improvements will create jobs, benefit community livability and the environment, and increase rail capacity.
Project elements include
- Construction of an additional north-south mainlinethrough Tower 55
- Redesigned Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) signal and interlocker system to improve control and increase transit speed
- Structural improvements to existing bridges over Stephenson Street and Lancaster Avenue
- Arterial street/intersection improvements supporting grade crossing closure of First and Peach Streets on the northeast side of downtown Fort Worth
- Improved emergency vehicle access and pedestrian safety at Cold Springs Road underpass
Project improvements will enhance this vital rail intersection immeasurably. It will become safer for pedestrians, more efficient for shippers, and more convenient for commuters. Furthermore, decreased train delay and grade-crossing blockage times will result in a reduction in carbon emissions from idling locomotives and automobiles and a savings in associated lost economic productivity.
Increasing throughput capacity and track speeds will enable Tower 55 to accommodate at least 34% more volume than current capacity, with less congestion and delay than the region has experienced in recent years. This will remedy a legacy chokepoint on the national rail system and allow freight and passenger rail transportation to respond to the nation's call to increase national economic output, improve livability and sustainability, and reduce reliance on imported oil.