Tower 55 Surface Improvements
On the southeast corner of downtown Fort Worth, Texas, two major north-south rail lines cross two major east-west rail lines at a location called "Tower 55." The rail lines are owned by BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad, and as many as 100 freight and passenger trains operate through Tower 55 daily—trains that carry consumer goods, autos and construction materials across America, commuters between Dallas and Fort Worth, and long-distance passengers between Southwestern cities. Increased traffic is causing delays to freight and passenger networks as well as motorists waiting to cross tracks.
BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, the city of Fort Worth, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) have long discussed improvements in capacity and fluidity at Tower 55. The commitment of local and federal funding in 2005 generated increased support from organizations such as the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The 'T') and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). BNSF and Union Pacific agreed to collaborate on the Tower 55 Surface Improvements Project and add a third north-south main line through the intersection to increase train travel speeds through the area. By decreasing train idling durations, the Tower 55 Surface Improvements Project will reduce associated air pollution, expand rail volume capacity and mitigate increased costs associated with congestion and re-routing.
HDR joined the project team in May 2009 to develop preliminary plans, obtain environmental clearances and coordinate with the public agencies involved. HDR is currently leading the design team responsible for project management, track design, grading, structures design, environmental permitting and coordination with the various stakeholders. HDR's real estate professionals have engaged with BNSF, Union Pacific and the design team to conduct right-of-way acquisitions and utility relocations. Additionally, HDR's economics and rail operations team helped BNSF and Union Pacific prepare a successful U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER II grant application in 2010 that resulted in a $34 million federal contribution. An estimated public benefit return of $27.50 per $1 of federal investment helped secure the award.